AN die iDi^t, close'* about him,
was there no one to believe
in Martin's innocence?
by Maurice Edelman
"May he dream treason and wake to find it
true . . ." These lines from John Donne's The
Curse describe the theme of Maurice Edelman's
new and thrilling novel about a Foreign Office
official on the fringe of middle-age who,
entrusted with a critical task, finds that, in ful
filling it, he has entered a twilight world where
guilt and innocence are confounded and dream
and reality mingled.
The diplomatic setting of Edelman's novel is
contemporary; its background is as familiar as
the Parliamentary scene which he so vividly and
convincingly described in Who Goes Home.
But, as in his previous books, he brings to A
Dream of Treason his rare capacity for inter
preting the drama of modern life in unique
and memorable situations. The terrible dilemma
which Martin Lambert's duty imposes on him
is one which may well become classic in modern
literature, so close is it, symbolically at any rate,
to the potential experience of us all.
Interwoven with this story of public affairs
is the deeply moving account of Lambert's per
sonal dilemma when, in the love of an eighteen-
year-old girl, he sees the prospect of a brief
shelter and escape from a marriage that has
been a burden and a career on the point of
For the excitement of the story alone, Edel
man's book will be widely read. But it is as a
complex study of human relationships that A
Dream of Treason will enlarge the already large
number of Edelman's admirers, and confirm his
reputation as a major novelist.
Jacket design by Robert Hallo ck
KANSAS CITY, MO PUBLIC LIBRARY
D DDD1 0301710 3
Edelman, Maurice, 1911-
A dream of treason. [1954
^ Maurice , 1911- _
A dream of treason [1
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A DREAM OF TREASON
Other Books by Maurice Edelman:
WHO GOES HOME
A TRIAL OF LOVE
A DREAM OF TREASON
By MAURICE EDELMAN
PHILADELPHIA AND NEW YORK
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
Copyright, 1954, by Maurice Edelman
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 55-6292
6 02 IS 02
A DREAM OF TREASON
May he dream treason, and believe that he
Meant to perform it, and confess, and die,
And no record tell why . . .
The Curse JOHN DONNE
"AND YOUR WIFE?"
"Yes," said the Foreign Secretary. "I'm sorry very sorry.
I like Eleanore greatly."
Across the wide, mahogany table, Lambert watched the
hands of the Foreign Secretary signing the name, Andrew
Brangwyn thick "A" and "B," the rest a wave in the
folio of letters. When he had blotted the last page, Brang
wyn pushed his papers away, walked to the high windows,
and stared across The Horse Guards Parade to the rim
of yellow lights that defined St. James's Park through the
"If it gets any worse/' he said, talking towards the dark
ness, "I'll send for linkmen. It took me twenty minutes to
get to the House last night. What's the time?"
Martin Lambert took his watch from his pocket and said,
"Half past seven, sir."
"The official time," said Sir James Padley, the Permanent
Under-Secretary, looking at the slow pendulum of the nine
teenth century wall clock, "is twenty-seven minutes past
"Of the two," Brangwyn said, returning to his chair
behind the table, "I prefer half past seven. Your interpreta
tion, James, is too meticulous. That's the trouble with the
products of red-brick universities."
"Birmingham, sir . . ." Padley began.
"New, James, too new. You treat all knowledge as if it
began with your own discovery of it. You've no sense of
history. Many facts no understanding. No tradition. Your
thought has no ancestry/'
Sir James Padley smiled comfortably in his arm-chair. He
was familiar with the Foreign Secretary's banter; he knew
that he meant every word of it.
"We new men, sir," he answered, "have to improvise as
we go along. We're pragmatists we take things as they are,
and make them what we want them to be. To paraphrase
Vigny, we arrange for our ancestors to descend from our
selves. . . ."
"You see, Martin, what I have to endure," said Brangwyn,
turning to Lambert. "Fifty years ago, the Head of the
Department would have quoted me a Greek epigram. With
the spread of popular education and a revised syllabus
he now refers to a third-rate French poet who disliked
military service. There's no doubt about it, Britain's been
ruined by her Education Acts. ... Are you losing face in
front of a subordinate, James?"
"No, not a bit," said Padley. "At the Foreign Office we
make a most careful study of our relative importance. And
our conclusions are fixed."
Lambert laughed uncertainly. Brangwyn hadn't yet asked
him to take a seat. Nor did he know the reason why Padley
had telephoned him to his flat that morning, abruptly and
privately, asking him to call on the Minister at a quarter
He had arrived to find the secretary's room already empty.
Entering with caution, he had tapped at the inner door, and
Sir James Padley himself had opened it.
"Good-evening, Martin/' Brangwyn said. "How are
you?" and went on writing while Padley read a typescript,
and Lambert himself, studying the ponderous painting of
George III behind the Foreign Secretary's head, waited, un
easy and ignorant of the reason for the summons.
"I have no sympathy with what passes nowadays for
culture," Brangwyn continued. 'In fact, I can't understand,
James, why you spend so much time at Festivals."
He leaned back in order to get more air. A thin haze had
filtered in from outside during the day, and lay gauzily
between him and Padley. The Foreign Secretary coughed a
little; although he had rowed for Cambridge, his years in the
City had fattened his chest and made him bronchitic.
"I never go to Festivals," he said. "Beastly things! Too
mournful! Everyone you see there is the victim of a self-
inflicted enthusiasm. They all go determined to be exalted,
even if it kills them. Drama, concerts, ballet do sit down,
Martin pictures; three days of it and they're already
suffering from Festival-fatigue. Oh, the sad pleasures! On
they go, evening after evening, acres of nodding grey
heads . . ."
"I hope to go to Aix next year," Sir James Padley said,
". . . brooding on the next day's gaiety," Brangwyn went
on. "If only I had the courage to defy you, James, I'd ask the
Chancellor to cut every one of the Festival grants. . . .
Where were you this year, Martin?"
"At Cavalaire a little place in the south of France . . ."
"I know, I know. Infested with campers . . ."
"I think, sir, that's Cavaliere. . . ."
"Cavalaire," said Brangwyn, "represents for me, in a
sense, the decline of the French. They camp in rows with
running water and laundries laid on. And squat, black-
haired men with bulging calves and sandals they all look
like waiters on holiday. The great heresy of British diplo
macy in this century has been our faith in the Anglo-French
alliance. Its strength is a myth. It's never helped us. We've
allowed ourselves to be misled into arrangements well,
never mind. How is Eleanore, Martin?"
"She's ill, sir. I told you/'
"Ah, yes ill. That's the third time she's been ill in the
last five years."
"Yes," said Lambert. He felt that he was beginning to
understand why the Foreign Secretary had sent for him, and
he raised himself from the disadvantageous softness of the
"It's a pity," said Brangwyn, wriggling his chin where
his stiff white collar was cutting it. "A pity. In a year or
two, we might have made you Minister at Lisbon or some
"I don't understand, sir," said Martin.
"It's very simple/' said the Foreign Secretary with a sud
den asperity. "You've been Deputy Head of the News
Department for three years. With your experience and
qualifications you should have been promoted long ago.
You haven't been. Do you understand why?"
"It isn't a question for me to answer. I'm satisfied to do my
"But you're handicapped . . ."
Lambert looked at Brangwyn's expression that had be
"Yes, handicapped. Your wife's illness . . ."
"That, sir, is a misfortune a personal one. It has never
interfered with my duties. . . ."
"It has," Brangwyn said, and paused, waiting for a com
ment from Lambert. Sir James Padley crossed his legs, and
turned the typescript face-downwards.
"Eleanore is now in a nursing home near Toulon. . . ."
"Yes. . . ."
"Her ailment is a simple one. She drinks too much."
Lambert pushed his chair away, and began to rise, but the
Foreign Secretary waved him down.
"No, Martin, you mustn't be wounded. ... I want you
to understand that the delay in giving you a suitable post
has nothing to do with any disability in yourself. You're all
Lambert waited for Brangwyn to continue.
"Your wife, you see, has given us a lot of trouble. At Nice
at the reception given by the Mayor to the Inter-
Parliamentary Union . . ."
"She called him a Turk."
"But he is a Turk."
"Exactly," said Brangwyn. "He didn't have to be re
minded of it nor with the embellishments that Eleanore
added. . . ."
"I was there," said Lambert. "Eleanore was strained and
tired, and Gantiplii was offensive you know how they
sometimes become. . . ."
"And in Paris last year at the cocktail party for General
Melton's staff . . . Carlton Gardens three months ago
when the Italian Prefects came on their goodwill tour . . .
You know, you can't always blame the other fellow, Martin.
There's a pattern in Eleanore's behaviour that you can't
get away from."
"The pattern. . . ." Lambert began, and stopped.
They had arrived at the Faubourg St. Honor for the
party, given by the Ambassador for General Melton and
his staff officers who had taken up their appointments at
"If you see me drink more than two/' Eleanore had said
to him as they walked up the wide steps, "I give you per
mission to come up nicely, of course and take it quietly
from my hand. You will do it nicely, won't you, Martin?"
For the first half-hour, as the room gradually filled with
guests, French civil servants and Parliamentarians, officers
from SHAPE, and the Embassy staff, Lambert, when he
could look away from the Senator who was explaining to
him how the Rhone barrage would profit French industry,
caught occasional glimpses, in the gilt rococo looking-glasses
that lined the walls, of Eleanore, surrounded by a courteous
group of American officers, multiplied a dozen times in
her black suit with its chinchilla edging. Through the
assembly of heads, he smiled to her, and she waved back to
him, raising one finger and pursing her mouth to say "one."
Contented, Lambert went with Mathers, the press attach^,
into a quieter adjoining room, where for a few minutes he
read a lengthy handout which the Embassy was issuing to
the newspapers that evening.
"What do you think of it, Martin?" Mathers asked.
"Excellent," said Lambert. "The only thing it leaves out
is what the French want to know. All that interests them is
how many divisions we're ready to keep on the Con
tinent. . . ."
Mathers shrugged his shoulders. "We're selling a carcase
and calling it a horse. As long as the Foreign Secretary "
A crash of laughter came from the next room, and Lam
bert said, "Let's go back. The party's improving."
They had difficulty in urging their way through the crowd
that had now increased till the only gaps lay between incon-
gruent bodies, buffered by hands holding glasses, or sepa
rated for a second by the furrow of a sweating waiter calling,
"Please, sir ... please, madam."
At first, Lambert couldn't see Eleanore. He could only
hear her laugh, a sudden shriek, above the waterfall-din of
conversation. She had moved from where he had last seen
her, but, in a corner near the window, he could see some of
the junior American officers, who had come from SHAPE,
surrounding a settee with arms linked over their shoulders
as if in a football scrum.
Anderson-Smith, the First Secretary, had edged his way
up to him.
"Martin, I think Eleanore's not feeling very well. H.E.
thought you might want to take her home."
Lambert heard his wife's voice from the settee.
"Oh no!" she said in delight, prolonging the vowel.
The officers laughed loudly and Lambert thrust a path
for himself to where his wife was sitting, with a low table in
front of her and four empty glasses.
"Hello, Martin," she said, her eyes bright and their pupils
small. "This is my husband."
The three officers greeted him.
"I told you I had a husband," Eleanore repeated. "This is
my husband. This is Van and this is Richard and this is
Van. Two Vans!" She gave a little laugh into her glass.
"That's right," said the Captain. "Well, if you'll excuse
me, sir." He shook hands with Lambert. "Glad to have met
you." The other officer whom Eleanore had called Richard
bowed and left with him.
"And this poor boy waiter! That damned waiter he
won't look this poor boy," said Eleanore, pointing to the
third officer, "is only twenty-seven twenty-seven and he's
got a wife and two children in Toledo, Ohio. Show my
husband the photographs, Van. He loves photographs. He
loves children. You do love children, don't you, Martin?"
Her voice had risen, and her face was mottled.
"Waiter!" she said in an emphatic voice, standing and
pushing away the table with her shins.
"Eleanore!" Lambert said.
"I want a drink," she said, jostling a French officer who
politely withdrew from between her and the waiter. Elea-
nore stretched out her hand and took a gin and vermouth
from the rattling tray that the waiter tried to withdraw.
"That's better," she said, sitting again on the settee.
"Martin, you mustn't let waiters be impertinent to your
She took another gulp from her glass, her fingers wet and
shiny with the alcohol that had slopped over.
"Van wouldn't allow it. Would you, Van?"
"The lady wasn't to have any," the thin, elderly waiter
said in Lambert's ear. "Madame said she wasn't to have any
"Eleanore!" Lambert said. "I think we'd better go."
"Why are you always in such a beastly hurry?" she asked.
"You're always in a hurry when I'm enjoying myself. . . ."
"I think I'd better be getting along," said Van.
"Not yet," said Eleanore. "Poor Van only twenty-seven
and all alone in Europe his wife . . ."
"Ill say good-bye, ma'am. Good-bye, sir," he said to Lam
bert. Lambert obliged himself to smile.
"You see what you've done," Eleanore said. "He's gone.
. . . I'm going to have a drink."
"No," said Lambert in an undertone. "You're coming
home. You've drunk too much already." He took her wrist.
"Leave me alone," she said loudly.
"Please be quiet," Lambert said, still in the same under
tone. "I don't want . . ."
"You can't bully me," she said, getting to her feet. "I'm
going to get another drink.'*
Those nearest to them had carefully turned their backs
to the conversation, leaving Lambert and his wife in an
isolated hemisphere near the settee.
"You're coming home," Lambert repeated quietly.
"Leave me alone," she screamed. "You you bastard!"
There was a sudden silence in the room, as if a talking
film had broken and become congealed in a still. Then, in a
moment, Anderson-Smith and the Ambassador's Private
Secretary had hurried forward and said, "Eleanore, we
wanted your advice on the new decorations in Chancery,"
and had taken her by the arm and, talking rapidly, led her
away towards the cold, deserted offices. Lambert left im
mediately behind them, and the conversation, momentarily
subdued, rose again.
"She's resting," Anderson-Smith said when he returned
to the entrance-hall where Lambert was waiting. "She'll
be all right in an hour or so. I'll get my wife to bring her
"No, thanks," said Lambert. "I'm very grateful to you, ,
John. I'll take her home myself."
Anderson-Smith turned to go. "I'm terribly sorry, Martin.
It's an awful nuisance I won't pretend it isn't. . . . Gets
people differently. I think you might send a note to H.E.
explain you had to leave early because Eleanore was ill."
"Thank you," said Lambert. "I know the formula."
He took his coat from the butler and walked out into the
sudden chill of the courtyard, where, watching the high,
lighted windows from an archway, he waited for the party
And later, at the George V, when they lay in their beds,
she said to him, "Martin darling please forgive me."
He looked across at her face, blotched and swollen from
tears, and she began to cry again with desperate stumbling
"Don't cry," he said. "It's no use. . . . It's . . ."
"Oh, darling," she wept. "I'm so unhappy so unhappy.
I want to die. All I want in life is to give you happiness, and
it ends like this. . . ."
"Not always . . ."
"Yes always, always, always."
He sat at her bedside, and drew the pale hair from her
"It's it's that awful thing it's always with me I can't
ever forget about it. I try to and want to but I can't. Oh, I
can't. . . ."
Her weeping had become a wail, and she clung to him
with her mouth pressed into his neck. He stroked her hair
and said, "It's over now. It's over. . . . It's years ago. No
one was to blame."
The familiar reassurance.
"But I'm so frightened," she said, her sobs quietening.
"I'm so frightened to go to sleep. I have such terrible
"You'll sleep well tonight. . . . But if you hadn't drunk
so much . . ."
"Drunk so much!" she said, drawing away from him.
"Drunk so muchl What do you care about my misery?"
"I care very much very much indeed."
She was lying on her back, with her face turned towards
the ceiling, and had begun to cry again in a forlorn, hopeless
lament that contorted her features.
"Eleanore!" he said gently. "Don't cry, darling. Please
He looked at the white door with its golden traceries that
divided their room from their neighbours'. "Don't cry.
They'll hear you."
"That's all you care about/' she said, pausing in the mid
dle of her wailing. "All you care about is what they'll say.
You never give a damn for me never, never, never!"
Her sobs, resuming, grew louder and she began to strike
her pillow with the sodden handkerchief in her fist.
Lambert walked to the curtains and, sitting on a chair by
the window, propped his chin on his hand. At last, in ex
asperation, he shouted, "Stop crying. . . . Oh God I've
had enough of it. . . ."
He began to dress in the darkness. The sound of his wife's
"Martini "she said.
He didn't answer.
"Martin!" she repeated.
He still didn't answer, and continued to dress.
She switched the light on and looked at him.
"Martin," she said slowly, "if you leave me now, I'll kill
His hands that had begun to knot his tie dropped to his
"I'll kill myself," she repeated. "I swear it. ... Go on,
you can go."
He returned to the bedside and said, "Eleanore, why do
you torment yourself like this why do you torment us
She had averted her face, and her nightdress had fallen
from her shoulders in a black crenellation.
"I'm repulsive to you," she said. "I know I am. Don't
pretend I'm not. . . ."
He put his hand under her warm armpit, and drew her
towards him in silence.
"I am, I am," she kept on repeating, groping for his
mouth with hers, her eyes shut. He felt the drool of her
saliva on the corner of his mouth.
"You hate me," she kept repeating. "I'm repulsive to
"No/* he said. "No, Eleanore. I don't hate you."
Afterwards, watching her asleep, he began to compose a
letter to the Ambassador. She slept with a slight frown on
her face, stirring from time to time in a whimper as if she
were listening to the sullen approach of her dreams.
But that was three months ago, before their summer
holiday. No one had mentioned it again. The Ambassador
had been particularly amiable to Eleanore at the Constable
Exhibition at the Orangerie when they stopped on their
way to the South of France. What happened later had been
private. The Abri and the drive over the mountain roads.
And everything beginning again.
And now in the Foreign Secretary's room, Lambert, who
had begun an angry reply, saw his own memory of Eleanore
in France not buried in the discretion of his colleagues
but reflected, vivid and malicious, in Brangwyn's eyes. He
stopped, lowered his head and waited on guard for the
Foreign Secretary to continue.
"I was thinking," said Brangwyn after a pause, "that your
talents are wasted in the News Department."
"Do you mean you want me to resign?" Lambert asked.
Brangwyn rose from his chair, walked around the table
and put his arm on Lambert's shoulder. Lambert didn't look
"Resign?" Brangwyn said. "Resign? My dear fellow, can't
you see I'm trying to help you?"
"Why have you asked me here tonight, sir?" Lambert
asked, standing, and disengaging himself from the Foreign
Secretary's arm. Unrebuffed, Brangwyn linked his arm in
Lambert's and began a slow promenade with him over the
length of the room. Padley watched them in silence.
"How would you like to be posted to the Far East say
for two years?" the Foreign Secretary asked. "Eleanore
might perhaps follow you later when she's recovered in
a year or so."
"Is that a condition," Lambert asked "that I should
leave her behind?"
"It might be better," said the Foreign Secretary, "if you
had time to get installed."
Lambert paused and turned to him.
"I'm very grateful to you for your offer, Andrew very.
You've been extremely considerate. But I could only ac
"You're a little premature," said Brangwyn, stiffening.
"There is no offer for the moment. I am only anxious to put
it to you that there are prospects of employment in the
Foreign Service which you may not have foreseen." He
spoke the last words decrescendo.
"At any rate," he said to Padley, "we can talk about that
some other time."
"Is that all, sir?" Lambert asked.
"No," said the Foreign Secretary. "I'd almost forgotten
why I asked you here." His voice was full and cheerful again.
"Tell me, Martin. . . . How well do you know Augier?"
"I know him very well. I see him almost every day at the
press conference. . . ."
"But do you know him socially, too?"
"Yes. I used to see a lot of him in America not 'so much
"How would you rate him?"
"Oh, he's first rate. Quite first rate. Probably the best of
the French correspondents in London."
"And if you had to rank Le Monde, Populaire with, say,
Figaro, Le Monde, and France Soir . . ."
"Le Monde Populaire well, it's got the third biggest
circulation it carries the best political reports I would
say that it's about the most important paper from the point
of view of forming public opinion."
Lambert spoke in a crisp, official voice, the thought of
Eleanore rejected to its familiar place in the undergrowth
of his anxieties.
"Would you agree, James?" said Brangwyn.
"Oh, yes/' said Padley, throwing the typescript that he
had been fingering onto the table. "Le Monde Populaire
proves that thighs and busts aren't the only way of building
a mass circulation. It flatters every French prejudice
preaches the easy life neutralism and all the rest of it
it's a very touchy paper, particularly where the Americans
are concerned. ..."
"They took offence," said Lambert, "when some Ameri
can paper said that Marianne tucks her fee in the top of
her silk stocking, and bilks."
"I quite agree quite agree," said Brangwyn. "France
may be a kept body, but she has her pride."
"Come, come, Andrew," said Padley. "The French . . ."
"Never mind that," said Brangwyn. "I don't want to hear
the classic defence of France. Francophilia's the disease of
the Foreign Office. Now, what about Le Monde Populaire?"
"The attitude of Le Monde Populaire to H.M.G.," said
Lambert, "is, I'm afraid, one of candid friendship."
"That's very good," said Brangwyn, returning to his desk
and making with his paper knife a design of pinpoints in
his blotting-paper. "Very good indeed. Le Monde Populaire
doesn't like the Rome Conference. . . ?"
"No," said Lambert. "By next Saturday it should be in
full blast against it. . . ."
"When's the actual opening?" the Foreign Secretary
asked, turning to Padley.
"On Saturday, there's the President's reception. The
Bureau meets on Sunday. And the first session's today
week," Padley answered.
Without comment, the Foreign Secretary walked to the
window and stood there for a few moments with his back
to Lambert and Padley. At last, he faced them, and said.
"Martin, I've a job for you."
"It's a most important job. A most secret and confidential
job. It shows the measure of our trust in you."
"I am very grateful." Lambert waited for Brangwyn to
Instead, the Foreign Secretary offered Lambert a cigarette
from the box on the table, absent-mindedly withdrew it be
fore he could take one, and then lit a cigarette for himself.
"I smoke too much," Brangwyn said, and began to cough
At last, he said, "You must undertake never to divulge
what we are about to discuss with you. You must never
reveal that this meeting took place, and never in any cir
cumstances not in any circumstances admit to any action
that you may take as part of your duties."
"Yes, sir," said Lambert. "You've told me it's secret. I
gave my undertaking when I entered the Foreign Service."
"Well, I'm not a professional diplomat," said the Foreign
Secretary. "I am merely a businessman who lost his way and
found himself in the Foreign Office. I only survive here,"
he added, playing with the fob of his thin watchchain, "be
cause I've contracted a friendly alliance with the Permanent
Under-Secretary and add a whiff of Magdalene to Throg-
morton Street. . . . Now then, Martin! I want you to give
me your solemn oath that what we now discuss will be
secret at all times and in all circumstances."
"I do," said Lambert, looking towards Sir James Padley
who was picking with his fingernail at a stain on his lapel.
"Very well," said Brangwyn. "You see that typescript on
the table." He pointed to the papers that Padley had been
holding, and which now lay abandoned diagonally across a
"Well, look at it."
Lambert picked up the typescript and glanced rapidly at
the first paragraph.
"You see what it is," said the Foreign Secretary.
"It looks like the copy of a Cabinet paper."
"It's the draft of a Foreign Office submission to the
Cabinet a submission based on certain assumptions . . ."
"I see. . . ."
". . . which the French ought to know about. You see,
Martin, the trouble with the French is that they've sunk into
a political indifferentism. Whenever there's a crisis, they
take to their beds. What they need is a shock . . . and they
need it before the Conference. We want you, Martin, to
see that they get it."
"You want me to?"
"Yes. Don't read it now."
With a start of resentment at the imperative voice, Lam
bert handed the papers back to Brangwyn, who turned the
pages as he spoke.
"The theme of this submission is a simple one. It's this
that dependence on the Anglo-French alliance is an
anachronism; it belongs to the days when our sea power had
to be backed by a neighbouring infantry power."
"Yes, but . . ."
"No, no. I'm not going to argue this matter. I'm explain
ing this document. . . . My point is that we live in a new
scientific age, and diplomacy hasn't caught up with it. The
aeroplane, the rocket, the guided missile have made us all
neighbours, and the accident of geography that stuck us
next to the French is no longer important. Britain's natural
allies are the Germans. "
He turned to Padley, and said parenthetically, "I do wish
I could make you see that it's desirable and not a bad al
"At any rate/' he went on, "I want to give the French a
last chance before the Rome Conference. I want them to
know what I have in mind that if they're not with us
wholly and without reservation then, as the Americans
have put it, we'll go along with the Germans wholly and
''Where do I come into this? Lambert asked. The Foreign
Secretary was like a conjuror producing from his pocket a
never-ending flag which had not yet formed into a design.
"I want the Monde Populaire to publish this paper by
next Thursday. ... It will be the biggest fuite d'in-
formation since the Ems telegram. You know the French
press well, Martin. I want you to see that they get it. And
I want you to describe it as the copy of an approved Cabinet
paper. . . . That will be a convenience when we issue a
formal denial later next week."
"But it is a genuine document a secret document. . . ."
"Of course. It represents my views my personal carbon
rescued by myself from incineration or shredding or
whatever they do with it."
"I see," said Lambert. The Foreign Secretary was holding
the typescript towards him. "But if this paper is published
if it has an opposite effect? What if the shock causes a
sort of paralysis?" Lambert asked.
The Foreign Secretary tapped his left hand with the
papers. "That, I think, is my business," he said. "I'm only
asking you to carry out a simple task."
Lambert looked at him directly. "It isn't a simple task.
It's easy to hand the paper over. That's nothing. What is
"Rubbish," said the Foreign Secretary. "You're teetering
on the edge of sanctimoniousness. What do you think diplo
macy is? It's war continued by other means. . . ."
"Andrew," said Padley to Lambert, "is the greatest British
statesman since Bismarck."
"The Germans," said Brangwyn, "were the first to admit
that the only object of politics is power. Nothing is im
moral that helps us to the purposes that we serve our
party, our cause, our country. That's the premise we must
start from. So don't "
Lambert had opened his mouth to speak.
"No, don't offer me any moral objections. I have nothing
to gain from this. I have no political ambitions. I'm Foreign
Secretary but only because the Prime Minister called me
He had stretched himself to his full height, and was be
ginning an oration.
"I would have been content to stay in Parliament for an
other two or three years, and then to retire to the country.
But this " he fumbled for the right commonplace "this
is a dangerous world. We must all play our part. If I ask
you to do this, Martin," he was now persuasive, "it's because
it is a useful and important job that you can do better than
anyone else. You'll be helping Britain. Here, take it."
"I'm sorry," said Lambert, withdrawing a half-step till his
leg pressed against the seat of the arm-chair. "It isn't my line
"Don't keep saying that," said the Foreign Secretary, with
a spasm of irritation.
"It's the first time I've said it," Lambert said coolly.
"What right have you to assume," Brangwyn insisted,
"that you are more moral and virtuous than we are?"
"I'm not assuming. . . ."
"Do you think we enjoy " The Foreign Secretary
stopped in the middle o his sentence, and smiled. "I hope
you're not going to be silly," he said. "I understand your
scruples. But this isn't news; it's strategy. You're a diplomat,
not a journalist. As a giver of news, you'd be justified in
refusing consciously to mislead a number of excellent
people who trust you. But this is a much bigger question
than that. It really is a matter of high diplomacy. Isn't
that so, James?"
"Yes," said Padley.
"You may never again have a chance, Martin, of acting
so directly as an instrument of your country's policy not
even if you become an ambassador. And heaven only
knows, if you're not ready to take this opportunity . . ."
He slapped his hand on the table so that a glass paperweight
Lambert stood uncertainly for a few moments, looking
from the Foreign Secretary to Padley and back again. Padley
And, suddenly, the typescript seemed to Lambert like an
invitation to end a phase of his life, the plodding hours at
the Foreign Office, the arid press conferences, meetings,
the flat in Portman Square, the weekly letter from Eleanore.
"There are prospects of employment . . . which you
may not have foreseen," the Foreign Secretary had said.
In a new environment, Dr. Fourneaux had said, away from
her associations that was it away from her associations
Mrs. Lambert will have a greater sense of security. It showed
the measure of the Foreign Secretary's trust. But Padley.
He mattered more. He had trust in Padley Padley with
his thin, friendly, diffident face. Padley who had helped
and protected him the second time Eleanore became ill
when Sir Arthur Baggott, the Head of the Western Depart
ment, had suggested his resignation. For Padley, to whom
he had only spoken half a dozen times in private during
the whole of his service, he felt both respect and affection,
the reverential shyness of a fourth-form schoolboy before
a well-bred headmaster.
Padley nodded. It was a nod of advice, a surreptitious,
"Well?" Brangwyn asked.
"Very well, sir," Lambert said. "I'll do it."
"Excellent," said the Foreign Secretary. "Take it and put
it away in your pocket."
Lambert folded the papers and put them in his breast
"Excellent," Brangwyn repeated. "Excellent . . . And
by the way, Martin, when this is all over what are you
doing at the week-end?"
"I'm going to the country apart from joining your send-
off party on Saturday,"
"Good. Keep out of the way. When we return," he was
now smiling happily, "the Permanent Secretary will see you
again officially. We're going to post you to Japan. . . ."
"Japan." Lambert said after him.
"Yes, and you can send for Eleanore whenever she wants
to go. . . ."
Lambert put his brief-case under his arm.
"I'm most grateful to you, sir. Most grateful . . . I think
Eleanore and I ... that we'll have a better chance . . ."
"Let us leave that subject," said Brangwyn indifferently.
"In this office we are primarily concerned with international
matters. Spiritual and matrimonial affairs we leave to the
clergy, the psychiatrists and the courts. You will, I'm sure,
be able to solve all your problems under the cherry trees.
Good-night and don't forget Augier."
As Lambert turned to go, he suddenly stopped and said,
"Just one thing. Will there be any record of this conversa
"No," said Brangwyn. "You need have no anxiety.
There'll be no record, no minute nothing."
The fog had settled over the streets like a steady snowfall,
muffling sound and distorting familiar aspects. Lambert
heard the voices of two policemen on duty in Downing
Street, and felt his way past the bollards at the entrance of
the Foreign Office towards the pavement on the other side
of the road in the hope that a taxi might be parked at the
bottom of the cul-de-sac. But the papers bulked against his
chest like a warning. He changed his mind and, with his
left hand touching the railings, walked towards the orange
aura of a street-lamp that shone from the top of an invisible
stanchion in Whitehall. The fog gave him comfort. It shel
tered his secret. And the secret in turn gave him compan
ionship. The Foreign Secretary and Sir James Padley were
his partners, accomplices in responsibility.
In Whitehall, the pavements and roadway were confused
in an ochreous miasma, occasionally freckled with the
briefly visible lights of cars and buses in convoy, led by
shouting men on foot. With his shoulder towards the
Ministry of Health and keeping as his guide the lamp in
the tower of the Houses of Parliament, Lambert groped his
way yard by yard to a telephone box near the Home Office,
repeating Augier's number.
SHE TOOK OFF her glasses, and her face smudged in the
mirror. Below the left corner of her lip the small patch of
acne that she had drenched with hot water earlier in the
evening till it pricked with a flush of blood, became a
powdered shadow. Carefully she raised her fingers towards
her chin, her ears and her hair, to make sure that the red
cluster was hidden, the unaccustomed rhinestone earrings
still pendant, and her hair arranged like that of the model
who stared at her from Vogue.
"But does your cream make-up cover every flaw, every
freckle, every trace of fatigue without turning your face
into a mask? Does it stroke on in seconds, and last all day
long?" the caption asked.
She had no doubt that it didn't; already in the last half-
hour she had reconstructed her make-up four times, and
even now she had not achieved the matt indifference, the
soliciting challenge of the model's direct, unsmiling eyes and
parted lips. She opened her mouth, and decided she had
opened it too much. As though closing a pair of calipers, she
gradually drew her lips together to the point of fashionable
separation, a quarter of an inch from each other.
With her mouth composed, she turned to her school pic
ture that stretched for three feet above the fireplace in a
setting of horse brasses and red and green rosettes pinned
to the wall. They bracketed the years from Pony Club to
Advanced Certificate. Miss Dorien and her staff. Miss Dorien
and her staff in their skirts and jumpers and pearls and
white hair waved for the photograph. Miss Bell, Miss
Cheadle, Miss Fretts, Miss Bolton. There they were, among
two hundred girls echeloned in chairs over the garden-
triangle with the institutional background of the school
behind them, rose windows, stone arches of Victorian
Gothic and the four trees in summer leaf.
And she herself of only two years ago, straight-haired, her
hands on her lap, identical with all the rest in her white
blouse and cardigan, rigid, and praying, praying, praying
that by some miracle the scum-laden water in the school
baths might gurgle away and she be released from her
commission to dive for the House, or at least that the photog
rapher might ask for more and more sittings till the after
noon had dwindled and the swimming was cancelled.
Miss Bolton. Miss Bolton. The name evoked the terror of
her school with its hours and clanging bells, the odour of
wet mackintoshes in its corridors, stodge, prep, the games
and the angry mistresses, and the gentle mistresses, the
protectors and their favourites, and the nausea of ex
From downstairs, she could hear Lambert's voice and her
father's punctuating assent. It was a formality that persisted
in his retirement. During nearly thirty years in the Consular
Service, Fergusson had learnt to signal his attention in the
course of his interviews by a system of sympathetic mur
murs, while his mind occupied itself with his closer and
more personal interests. Even when he came to visit her at
school the signature J.F. on his postcards from Nice and
Bogota and Santander, the portraits of churches, volcanoes
and mediaeval saints, translated at last into a father he
still listened to her with the sounds of his profession.
She enjoyed the deference of her teachers towards her
elderly father. If her mother, whom she barely remembered,
had been alive, she might have been like all the other
mothers, middle aged and behatted; or even like her own
occasional aunts, thin, clipped and wearing tweed costumes,
with whom, in a sad progress through Scotland and Devon
at her father's designation, she spent her holidays. But he
was different. When her father arrived at school, it was a
ceremony. He came from abroad; he represented a Royal
Majesty in whose family life the staff were much concerned;
he was authorised to come on non-visiting days, so that
while the other girls were in their classes, Valerie and he
walked together across the empty Triangle.
Their day had a routine. Fergusson called for her in a
taxi. Then they drove to a hotel, and had tea. He asked her
questions about her teachers and games and her friends, till
he had spent his conversation and for lack of it loaded her
plate with pastries. Towards six o'clock, he used to say:
''Must be getting back. Be a good girl." It was the moment
when, after the hours of strangeness, she thought, "This is
my father," and each of them began to feel that he had
ownership in the other. The day was over. Her father took
her hand, awkwardly as if expecting a rebuff, and she drove
with him to the station.
"Good-bye, Valerie," her father said. "Let me know if
you want anything." And to show his love he gave her a
pound note instead of an embrace, while she, at every age
thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen, her eyes
blurring with tears, and her nose congested would hold
his sleeve for a moment, without words to say that she
loved him or even to call him by some name.
Not that he was always tender and considerate. When he
retired three years before and reopened Felling Priory he
had become peevish as if he resented his inactivity. One
day, after lunch, when Martin Lambert, a friend from the
Foreign Office, had been staying with them, her father said
in her presence, "I'm too old to get married again. And
anyhow, I've had bad luck with my wives. I lost my first
with my luggage and my vice-consul locally recruited, of
course on the way to Bogota. My second was a Spanish
royalist. She embarrassed me very much. She was lost flying
to the Azores. My third . . ." But Lambert had risen and
said, "Show me the garden, Valerie/'
They went into the garden together, and Lambert took
her hand as they walked in the hot sunshine over the ir
regular stone path that sprouted purple weeds from its
"It's very neglected," Valerie said. "We've only got one
man to look after the whole garden, and Daddy hates
"I suppose," said Lambert, "he doesn't know the dif
ference between a Cydonica Japonica and a Rubus
Biflorus. . . ."
"Oh, yes," Valerie answered. "Daddy often helps me with
botany. It's just that he likes thinking about things, not
"I see," said Lambert. She drew him through a tangle of
peonies, phlox and Michaelmas daisies.
"We've got a wistaria three times as big as that at school,"
she said. "It's supposed to be the biggest in Surrey."
He hesitated before answering, and confused, she added,
"It's the sandy soil."
"Yes," said Lambert, and took hold of a sprig to pluck it.
The bush shook out a commotion of bees, and Valerie drew
"Don't be afraid," said Lambert, and handed her a small
sprig of the wistaria. She smelt it, and put it in a buttonhole
of her school blouse.
On their way back to the house, Lambert tried to inquire
about her examinations. But she walked quickly ahead of
him, her mind wholly excited by the surprising moment in
which he had given her the blossom.
When they arrived at the house, she hurried upstairs to
her room, and sat for ten minutes looking at the mauve
wistaria. It was the first object in the drawer that she called
She pulled the drawer open, and fingered the crumbling
wistaria, the two photographs which she had taken from an
illustrated magazine, the newspaper cuttings.
"Birthdays: Mr. Martin Lambert, 39." That was her
last addition from the Daily Telegraph. Then there was:
"New Diplomatic Appointment: The Foreign Office an
nounced yesterday that Mr. M. R. Lambert has been ap
pointed Deputy Head of the News Department. Mr.
Lambert, who is 36, was in the British Embassy in Paris in
1940 at the time of the fall of France. Since 1945, he has
held a number of appointments in the United States. After
a short period as principal Private Secretary to Mr.
Gauntlet, he spent three years with the British delegation
at Lake Success, before taking up his post with the Informa
That was from The Times of three years ago when he
gave her the wistaria. And the photograph.
She raised it close to her face, and read the caption: "A
Gay Party at Megve: Enjoying themselves in the snow is
this young group of diplomats and their lovely wives. From
left to right, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Lambert . . ."
Dwarfing a brilliant white Alp, with their skis piled in
the snow behind them, Lambert and his wife in the centre
of a group of their friends were smiling at each other. In
her black trousers and white jacket with its tight black
hood, Lambert's wife, Valerie decided, looked exactly like
the girl in Vogue. "Mr. and Mrs. Martin Lambert . . ."
Valerie shut the drawer, and returned to the looking-
glass. She'd have to go downstairs. Her father had already
called her once.
She pulled at the wrinkling collar of the red dress that
she had bought in Cirencester, and began to rehearse her
entrance. He'd be sure to say, "Hello, Valerie. How you've
changed! You were such a child. . . ." And she'd say,
"One's bound to change, Mr. Lambert. Gro wing-up is a
process of discarding things." It had the sophisticated ring
of the aphorism by Miss Fretts, the English mistress, "Art
is a process of selection."
"Gro wing-up is a process of discarding things," she said
aloud at her image in the mirror. Too severe. She didn't like
the stiffness in her voice. She smiled into her face, and
began more casually. This time her voice was firm, but with
a relaxed drawl that went with a light stir of her left
"Oh, you know, Martin," she said to herself aloud, "grow-
ing-up's a process of discarding things."
She didn't like that either. A voice like that needed a
cigarette holder. She tried again.
"Well, I can't see myself. But I'm certain I must have
changed. After all, Martin, I was only a child when we last
met. One can't always wear pigtails." Her voice was loud
and emphatic. A pause. "After all, gro wing-up is a process of
As she finished this address to herself, she saw at the side
of her face, like the materialisation of a familiar and un
wanted spirit, her father's face.
"Discard the two curling pins at the back of your hair,
and come down at once," he said, and was gone.
"He heard me," she said to herself. "He heard me/'
And a tremor of shame and indignity began in her legs
and passed to her stomach and her hands. She fumbled for
the pins in her hair, and left the room without switching
off the light.
Lambert stood up when she entered, and stretched out
"Hello," he said. "It's appalling of me to turn up at ten
to nine. But I did telephone your father. ..."
"He told me. . . . What was the fog like? Did you have
a bad journey?"
"It was pretty thick till I got out of London, and then,
all of a sudden, I ran into a bright sunset."
"It's been absolutely clear here," said Fergusson. "Impos
sible even to imagine a fog. I've spent so many years looking
at boringly blue skies. You give me a slight nostalgic de la
"It's like most nostalgias," said Lambert. "Satisfy it, and
you'll be cured for ever. Like people who want to recapture
the comradeship of air-raids."
"All right, all right," said Fergusson. "I wasn't serious.
We hope you're going to stay the week. ..."
"Till next Friday except for tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Valerie asked.
"Yes. I've only come for brandy and breakfast. Tomor
row I've got to wave good-bye to the Foreign Secretary at
"But you'll come back," she said quickly. "As soon as you
can. . . ?"
"In the evening ..."
"The disturbed week-end," said Fergusson. "It's the
malady of the profession. I wish I could have the hours
again that I've spent greeting and saying good-bye to un
welcome visitors on Saturday and Sunday . . . drunken
sailors, standard tourists, lunatic Englishwomen, Cabinet
Ministers . . . the whole lot of them."
"I'll leave without ceremony. I promise. . . ."
"No, you won't," said Fergusson. "I've delegated all pro
tocol to Valerie. When she goes into the Foreign Serv
ice . . ."
"Are you, Valerie?" Lambert asked. Relaxed in the
leather arm-chair, he smiled to her as she sat on a high-
backed chair with her hands folded on her lap.
"Oh, no. Don't believe a word Father says. I really don't
know what I'm going to do. St. Anne's to begin with . . ."
"But that's excellent. When do you go up?"
"Next year, I hope. . . . I'm spending this year at home
looking after Daddy."
Lambert turned to her father. "You're very lucky. The
leisured domestic life." He looked around at the book-cases
and said, "All the books in the world, all the time to read
them . . ."
"Rubbish," said Fergusson. "You wouldn't want them
if you had them. Give him some more brandy, Valerie.
. . . You like conferences, news, denials, anonymity,
"I've no power/' said Lambert with a laugh. "I'm not
even a* voice. I'm a channel."
Valerie took the heavy bottle of Armagnac and began to
fill his glass. But as she did so, its weight slowly toppled the
glass over the edge of the table.
"Look out, Valerie," her father called, and stretched for
ward, too late. The brandy spilled from the unbroken glass
in a pale stain over the carpet.
"My dear girl," Fergusson said, "why don't you wear your
glasses? You know you're blind as a bat without them."
"I'm so sorry/' Valerie answered, wiping the brandy with
her handkerchief. "Terribly sorry." Her neck and face
"It was all my fault," said Lambert. "I caught the glass
with the edge of my sleeve. Sorry, John," he said to Fergus-
son. "Treat it as a libation. It's the best Armagnac I've
drunk in years."
"It's the remains of a dozen bottles I got when I was
en poste at Nantes," said Fergusson, appeased. "My God,
what a place! I was there for over a year. A sort of third-
rate Bristol. You've got to be a painter to be able to bear it.
And that for only two days. When you've done the
quays . . ."
"Do you mind if we hear the news?" Lambert interrupted
him. "I'd like to hear if there's anything from France on the
Valerie switched on the wireless and Lambert rose, and
stood with his back against the fireplace, hands in pockets,
waiting for the announcer's voice to come from the mahog
"Further outlook. Cloudy over much of Scotland and
northern Ireland; some bright intervals likely in southern
and eastern England; elsewhere persistent fog. . , ."
"Poor Mr. Lambert," said Valerie. "I'm so sorry for you
having to drive back through the fog."
"The United States delegation has arrived in Rome for
the Conference which will hold its inaugural session at
Quirinal on Monday. The British delegation is expected
tomorrow. . . ."
Lambert leaned over the set that had begun to crackle.
"My dear boy," said Fergusson. "You mustn't admire
your own work so conspicuously. It's only this morning that
you gave them all this."
Lambert raised his hand as the announcer went on.
"The French Cabinet met again this morning to discuss
the publication by Le Monde Populaire of an alleged
British Cabinet paper. An interpellation has been tabled by
M. LeMaistre, Independent, asking the French Govern
ment to postpone its participation in the Rome Conference
till a debate has taken place. . . .
A Foreign Office spokesman said today in London that
it was not for Her Majesty's Government to confirm or
deny the authenticity of irresponsible reports."
Lambert switched the wireless off.
"I don't see that," said Valerie. "Why doesn't the Foreign
Office. . . ?"
"The Foreign Office!" Fergusson echoed contemptuously.
"If the Foreign Office were to try and deny canards,"
Lambert said to Valerie, "it would mean that everyone left
undenied would be assumed to be true. Besides," he added,
"the Foreign Office sometimes likes to keep the world
"The F.O. never lies," said Fergusson, rotating his
brandy glass in his cupped hands, "but sometimes it only
tells half the truth. It's quite clear that the French have got
on to something don't say 'Yes' or 'No/ Martin I've
never for a moment thought we were security-tight at the
Foreign Office. After all, why should we assume that we're
any more free from Communists than the State Depart
"Because," said Lambert, "there's an older, more con
servative mood in Britain."
"And in any case, the British Foreign Service has been re
cruited from a narrower, more reliable range than the State
"But in the late 19305 don't you think there were Com
munists at the Universities, men who later went into the
"Of course there were, Martin. Don't be naive. There
must have been dozens of them and they're still there . . .
all of them hugging their guilt and some of them making
"But this leak," said Lambert. "Do you think the report
was leaked by a Communist in the Department?"
"Why not?" said Fergusson. "Valerie, give Martin an
other brandy and mind the bottle. . . . Why not, Mar
tin? . . . What about that fellow . . . what's his name
. . . Sparr-Gamby in the Western Division?"
"Oh, he's all right," said Lambert. "He's only become a
traditional reference because someone asked a question
about him in the House."
"I've never heard of him," said Valerie. "What did he
"Nothing much," said Lambert. "He once wrote a rather
dreary article on 'Realism in Russian Literature' for a
leading Communist review . . . edited by a very respect
able poet who has now recanted and edits a leading anti-
"That may be," said Fergusson. "I only mention him as
the part of the iceberg above the water. What about the
rest? I've absolutely no faith in the security system at the
Foreign Office absolutely none. After all, look at Jones.
Why was he put in charge of security?"
He emptied his glass of Armagnac and recharged it.
"There was a vacancy the Americans started complain
ing about security. . . . And Brangwyn looked around for
somebody to do the job. Then one evening, he was at a din-
ner party . . . about twelve of them. Jones was there from
the Foreign Office . . . sat next to Brangwyn. . . . Didn't
say a single word the whole evening. And on the way back,
Brangwyn said to Padley in the car I've found just the man
for security. Jones. Knows how to keep his mouth shut.' "
"Well," said Lambert, "the only time I've ever heard
Jones say anything was at a meeting when Brangwyn asked
him to give a report on security."
"Careful, Martin," said Fergusson, "Valerie's listening
to you entranced."
"Oh, Daddy," Valerie protested.
"It isn't a great secret," said Lambert. "Jones reported
. . . you know, in that cracked, undertaker's voice. . . .
The Secret Waste is destroyed each morning.' And that
"The man's hopeless," said Fergusson. "The papers are
"They're very excited about the whole thing," said Lam
"There was a lovely leader this morning," said Valerie.
She picked up a newspaper, and spread it over her knees
at the foot of the arm-chair where Lambert had taken a
seat. "Do listen!"
She began to read: " Talk, talk, talk. There's always talk
of security at the Foreign Office. If security were built by
talk alone, a major Cabinet paper would not be hawked on
the boulevards today.' " She glanced down the column.
"They're simply furious with Jones. 'Sir Wystan Gorse-
Jones must go. For why? We must show the world that the
Foreign Office can be trusted. . . . There are younger men
ready to take his place, men with a spirit of adventure, men
who believe in the Empire. . . .' That's you, Martin," she
Her father looked at her quickly. "You see how it is,"
he said to Lambert. "You see how soon our juniors become
He sat in silence for a few moments, and then said, "How
ever the thing leaked out, it's certainly shaken the French."
"There won't be any more talk of neutralism," said
"Except by the neutralists. Do you really think, Martin,
that this leakage has done anything except scare them stiff?
And for every Frenchman it frightens to our side, it'll
frighten three away. Brangwyn ought to be impeached."
"Why?" said Lambert quickly.
"For stupidity and slackness in security. It's the most
damaging thing that's happened to us for ten years. . . .
Why the devil . . . You know, you can't bully the French
into loving you."
"It's too early to say," said Lambert. "I'll tell you more
next week. Somehow, though, I think Andrew isn't your
"He isn't. I've known him too long. I knew him when he
first got into the House a stuttering Front Bencher
straight from the City. The worst Minister of Labour we've
ever had. Everything he touched came off in his hand.
Never a crisis without a strike. . . ."
"Yes," said Lambert, "But every strike was settled. . . ."
"With the bitterest of memories," said Fergusson. "I
knew him after he lost his seat, too he was a sort of political
ambulance-chaser, always looking for a by-election. When
any M.P. fell ill, he'd invariably ring up and ask after his
health. Everyone knew that when he said, 'How are you?'
he meant, 1 trust you're dying.' "
"Oh, Daddy," said Valerie.
"But of course " said Fergusson. He was becoming
angry, and his face reddened under his white hair "I'm
not suggesting that Brangwyn's an insensitive man. Oh, no!
You should see him at Question Time in the House when
he's being attacked. Most sensitive, I assure you! He goes
yellow, his lip trembles, his papers flutter . . . he's a very
sensitive fellow. But give him the chance to send a Note to
... to Iceland. . . . Then you'll see the stuff he's made
of. . . ."
"I don't agree at all," Lambert said curtly. "I think he's a
man of great ability."
"I'm sorry, Martin. I'm offending you. I forgot you're
related to him."
"Only by marriage my elder half-sister whom I never
meet is his wife. We all treat each other with the strict
est formality. She regards me as being slightly disrepu
Fergusson shrugged his shoulders. "That's the destiny of
younger half-brothers. How's Eleanore?"
Lambert had raised his glass to his mouth, but he paused
half-way and put it down.
"She hasn't been very well," he answered. "She's at
Bandol. Actually, I'm expecting a telephone call from
her. . . ."
"I see," said Fergusson.
"She's so beautiful," said Valerie.
"When did you see her?" Lambert asked.
"I've only seen her photographs," Valerie replied.
"She's better looking than her photographs," said Fer
"She was very ill in the summer," said Lambert, and he
remembered her as he had left her in the clinic at Bandol,
her eyes shut and rimmed with blue, a trace of sweat on her
forehead, her bare arm dangling as in defeat over the side
of the bed, and the nurse preparing to untie the mosquito
"I do wish you'd bring her to see us one day," Valerie
said. "I'd so much . . ."
"Yes/' said Lambert. "What are you going to read when
you go up?"
At ten o'clock, after Fergusson had spent half an hour in
reminiscence of his post at Santander, he suddenly got up
and said, "Bed!"
Lambert rose as well, but Fergusson said, "There's no
hurry, Martin. Give him a whisky and soda, Valerie," and
walked heavily to the door.
"Can I get you anything, Daddy?" Valerie asked.
"No," said Fergusson. "Don't stay up late."
"He's so lonely," Valerie said when he had shut the door.
"He goes to bed every night at ten he goes to his room,
and shuts himself away. I don't think he sleeps. I sometimes
see his light burning for hours. And when he takes sleeping
pills, he's so bad tempered next day."
"And what about you?" Lambert asked. "Have you many
"Not many," said Valerie. "Since Father's come here, he
hasn't really wanted to meet anyone."
"But doesn't he invite people to meet you?"
"Oh, no at least, hardly ever. But I don't really mind.
When I go up to St. Anne's, I suppose I'll meet lots of
"Why didn't you go up this year you could have tried
the other places, couldn't you?"
Valerie began to press the trigger of the soda-siphon, and
Lambert took it from her hand.
"You've got to be careful," he said. "Otherwise it'll squirt
all over the table."
"Yes," she answered.
"Why aren't you going up this year?" he insisted.
"I don't know," she said. "I suppose it's because I wanted
to keep Daddy company. And he was terribly keen on me
spending a year at home. ..."
"But it's it's so lonely for you," Lambert said. "Good
lord, at your age you ought to be having fun not stuck
here looking at cows."
"I like it," Valerie said. "I like it very much. I love the
country. I couldn't bear to live in London."
"Oh, well," said Lambert. "I mustn't try and make you
"You won't make me restless," said Valerie. "I don't know
about Daddy. I noticed how he brightened up when you
spoke of the Foreign Office. And he got so furious about
the report. I've never known him take such an inter
est. . . ."
"Your father's an exceptional man," said Lambert.
"Don't underrate him, Valerie. I've known and liked him
"Oh, he's terribly fond of you, too terribly. You can't
imagine how he's been looking forward to your coming
here. All of a sudden, he seemed to become years younger.
He spent the whole of yesterday morning cleaning the guns
in case you wanted to go rabbiting."
"That's very touching," said Lambert.
"You're not being ironic?" she asked suspiciously.
"No, not in the least bit. Your father is one of the few
really kind men I've ever met. Even when he gets
"Oh, he does with me sometimes. He says he has to like
someone very much before he'll bother to be rude to him.
He told me, though, that you're the prime illustration of
the crassness of the Foreign Office. ..."
"You mean," he said, "that I ..."
"Oh, no, not you the Foreign Office. Daddy thinks
they're stupid not to have promoted you years ago. You
see, he's got his own grudge against the Foreign Secretary."
"He didn't really want to retire. . . ."
"No, I know he didn't."
"He was so certain they were going to make him Consul
General in Chicago. It was Brangwyn who stopped it. He
said Daddy was too old."
Lambert gave a short laugh, and Valerie looked up at
him in surprise.
"Why do you laugh?" she asked. "Didn't you like Chi
"I liked it to begin with yes. Not so much later on. We
had a house on the North Side by the lake."
"I wish," said Valerie, clasping her arms around her
knees, "I wish you'd tell me something about all the places
you've been to. All my life I've been related to people who
travel, and I've never been anywhere myself. . . ."
" 'You change your place not your soul when you cross
the sea' have you ever read the Epistles?"
"Yes, we did them last term. Horace was a tired, un
healthy old cynic when he wrote that. He'd exhausted him
self with debauchery, and when he couldn't enjoy Baiae any
more, he said travel was a bad thing. I want to travel
everywhere Italy, France, Greece. All those lovely places
that end in 'a' and 'o.' I long to go to Perugia. Perugia!
Don't you think it's got a wonderful sound? Perugia!
She got up, and collected the glasses from the tables, and
Lambert watched her contentedly.
"Have you seen the Exhibition of Italian Art at Burling
ton House?" she asked, returning to her place on the cushion
at the side of his arm-chair. Lambert hesitated for a mo-
ment, and answered, "Yes ... I went specially to see the
"The lovely one . . . the one on the poster . . ."
"I sat looking at it half an hour/'
From three fifteen to nearly a quarter to four on the day
after the Foreign Secretary had given him the papers, he had
sat on the padded bench in front of the "Concert," waiting
for Augier's messenger. "He will say," Augier had told him,
" 'The Louvre is generous to lend it.' "
Around him, the changing observers admired the picture,
and Lambert pressed with his finger-tips the papers folded
in the catalogue. At a quarter to four, a young man next to
him took out a packet of Gaullois, smiled apologetically and
put them back in his raincoat. He looked from Lambert
to the Giorgione and said, "The Louvre is generous to lend
"Yes," said Lambert. He had placed the catalogue at his
side. When the young man rose, Lambert said, "I think this
is your catalogue."
"For half an hour. . . ." Valerie repeated. "How won
derful! I do so love that picture. We've got a reproduction
of it in one of the Phaidon books."
She brought the volume from the shelves, and they held
it together on his knees. With his left hand on the spine of
the book, he felt her fingers resting lightly on his.
"We did the Renaissance in history/' she said. "I was
hopeless to begin with."
"Yes," said Lambert, turning the pages with his right
"I adored Cellini's autobiography," Valerie said.
"Yes," said Lambert.
The night was soundless, except for the occasional crackle
from the fire, and the Foreign Office seemed in his recollec
tion like a vast store that had shut and was silent.
"Miss Bolton she was 'history' Miss Bolton was al
ways talking about the Cinque cento. It was a most frightful
"Frightful," said Lambert. He looked down at Valerie's
burning face, her eyes staring fixedly at the pages, and felt
with the back of his hand her cold fingers. Beyond her
head, he could see the great carved chimney-piece and her
father's pipe-rack. Ever since he had known Fergusson,
when Valerie was still a child, the pipe-rack had been like
a trade-mark of Fergusson's presence.
"I think," said Lambert, abruptly closing the book, "it's
time for bed."
"Yes," said Valerie. She straightened the creases from
"Well, good-night," said Lambert.
"Good-night," said Valerie.
She looked away from him.
WITHIN THE PRIVATE departure lounge of the airport,
Brangwyn's staff waited for him to speak. He had risen
from his green leather arm-chair and, humming ill-
temperedly to himself, had studied the portrait of the
Queen, fingered the model of the Boreas, and now peered
towards the aircraft on the marshalling apron about a
hundred yards away. The fog that earlier in the day en
closed the runways had lifted to expose a wintry sun and a
gauzy view of the buildings on the far side.
Brangwyn stood with his feet spread on the large squares
of the chequered floor, and the officials anxiously watching
his frown waited for him to speak.
"Perhaps," said Brangwyn, "we might use the occasion
for a game of chess."
His staff laughed complaisantly, and Brangwyn joined
them with a brief, controlled smile before casting a quick
glance at the murky, fog-smeared fanlight of the low ceiling.
"You will correct me if I'm wrong," said Brangwyn, "but
I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the slowest form
of travel is air travel."
"I do correct you," his wife said. "You always exaggerate!"
The four members of the Foreign Secretary's staff com
posed their faces into neutrality.
"I don't know why you men are always in such a hurry.
The plane's only been delayed two hours."
"Two hours and four minutes," said Padley.
"Well, what of it?" Mrs. Brangwyn said. "It's given us
more time for coffee and chat. . . . Darling," she added,
putting her hand on her husband's arm, "have you got the
"No, dear," he answered. "You've got them in your hand
She opened her suede bag, grabbled inside for a few mo
ments, and said, "So I have. Do remind me, James, to give
them to Andrew before you take off. And make sure that he
has two tonight. . . ."
"Oh, really, Mary," said the Foreign Secretary.
"He's so careless about himself," she went on. "And the
weather is quite awful. Now you won't forget. . . ."
Brangwyn began to cough, and Vosper, his Private
Secretary, refilled his cup with coffee.
"The best . . . thing ... to be said ... for ...
flying ... on a filthy day like this," he said between his
spasms, "is that ... in a few hours . . . we'll be ... in
Outside, although it was only half past three, the airfield
was again wrapped in a thick gloom, uninterrupted except
for the receding lights along the approach path to the run
way and the blurred radiance from the waiting aircraft.
"Any news?" the Foreign Secretary called out to the air
ways officer who was approaching his table. The officer
saluted and said, "It's still pretty thick on the other side,
sir. Three hundred visibility, smoke haze, cloud eight/eight
at six hundred feet. . . . I'm very sorry, sir."
Brangwyn tapped the side of the cup with his coffee-spoon,
and started humming to himself.
The officer stood awkwardly with his hands at his side, as
i waiting for instructions* At last, to break the silence, he
said, "We're taking on more fuel, sir another fifty gal
lons. . . ."
"Thank you," said Brangwyn. "Thank you very much.
When are we likely to get off?"
"We're hoping, sir, in about half an hour. We think it's
clearing a bit. . . ."
"Never heard such nonsense/' said Mrs. Brangwyn. "It's
getting perceptibly thicker. I think we all ought to go home
and try again tomorrow."
The Foreign Secretary looked at her affectionately, and
she squeezed his hand.
"I just want to hold on to you another day, sweetie," she
said. "There ought to be a law against Foreign Secretaries
leaving their wives behind. . . . And besides, you haven't
told me about the book-case. . . ."
"The one at Telfers. Do you want it or don't you?"
"My dear Mary . . . this is hardly the time. . . ."
"Well, when is the time?" she asked angrily. "You're al
ways too busy. ..."
Forgotten, the duty officer withdrew, and Vosper en
gaged the other members of the staff in a diversionary con
versation while Brangwyn applied himself to settling the
problem of the book-case.
In the adjoining lounge, Lambert was answering ques
tions put to him by the journalists who were waiting for the
Foreign Secretary. Although it was only half past three, the
strip lighting was already on, darkening by the contrast
the airfield where the fog, fluctuating and uncertain, seemed
to be thickening.
A fair-haired American in glasses, who scarcely moved his
lips, said, "Well, what are you hoping to get out of this
Conference? It seems like the old ones that failed. Same cast,
different theatre French farce set in Rome/'
Lambert gave him a friendly smile that compensated for
his own prejudices. "It's a different play," he said. "And
this is off the record. . . . We're hoping the French are
going to be more forthcoming this time. . . ."
"Why?" the American persisted.
"Because they don't want to be isolated."
"You mean as Le Monde Populaire . . ."
"I don't mean anything of the kind," Lambert answered.
He was wondering if amiability towards Ulmer was the most
useful attitude, after all. "We're not responsible for what
Le Monde Populaire prints. . . ."
A number of journalists began to speak at the same time,
but Ulmer's voice overbore them. "Le Monde Populaire"
he insisted, "has just published exposed what they con
sider a threat a threat to France blackmail, they call it
offered to them by Britain. I want to know . . ."
"What were you saying, Peter?" Lambert said calmly to
Wilding who, as the senior diplomatic correspondent, am
bassadorial in dress and manner, had taken the wicker-chair
in front of the Foreign Secretary's vacant place.
Wilding said, "I really was on the same point. The French
reaction to this well, call it whatever you like this dis
closure . . ."
"All right to this alleged disclosure has been surpris
ing. It has somehow rallied the French in a contrary sense
to what one might have expected. Would you agree that the
s tir of Anglophobia and anti- Americanism in France . . . ?"
Lambert interrupted him.
"I'm sorry, Peter. All that's a matter of opinion. I can
only tell you that in my view the French public is more
solidly with the West today than ever before. It's a good
omen for the Conference."
"Like the weather/' said Ulmer, returning to his in
quiries in the lull that followed Lambert's reply. "Tell me,
Mr. Lambert, do you I mean the Foreign Office do you
think that Communists have had anything to do with the
"No," said Lambert.
"Well, then . . ." Ulmer flung himself on the reply like
a wrestler whose opponent has stumbled.
"We do not accept that there has been any leakage,"
"But there may be?"
Lambert didn't answer.
"We take it there may be ..." Ulmer went on.
"I'm sorry," said Lambert. "All that's hypothetical.
There are two Parliamentary questions to the Prime Minis
ter next week."
Ulmer leaned back in his arm-chair, and took his cigarette
from one of the chrysanthemum pots that surrounded the
room. The cigarette had died in an earthy mould and
Ulmer threw it on the ground in distaste.
"But if a fuite had taken place " Wilding ejected the
French word in the middle of his carefully articulated
phrase as if to give it a full dramatic value "that really
would be a grave matter for the Foreign Office. After all a
Cabinet paper! . . ." He waited for an answer.
"Could we have a reply?" asked the correspondent of the
Herald, a former Parliamentary reporter, who brought to
press conferences the style and technique of the House of
"I had the impression," Lambert said courteously, "that
Peter was making a comment."
"Oh, no," said Wilding. "It was a nonne question ex
pecting the answer 'yes.' "
"In that case," said Lambert, "I can give you the answer.
The leakage of a Cabinet paper even a Foreign Office
paper to a foreign country . . ."
"To anyone/' said Wilding.
"Yes, to anyone . . . would be . . ."
The journalists waited attentively as Lambert prepared
the adjective. "It would be not undisturbing. . . . Here's
the Foreign Secretary."
The journalists turned their heads to the door, and those
seated rose, as Brangwyn and Sir James Padley, followed by
the secretaries, walked towards the vacant arm-chair which
the airline had set in a bower of greenery to celebrate the
occasion. Brangwyn, unsmiling, beckoned them to be seated.
In a slow half-circle, he moved his glance over the corre
spondents, paused for a second at his wife, who was standing
in the doorway, continued his survey, and said, "Well,
The lights for the film cameras bloomed like suns, radiant
and hot, into the Foreign Secretary's face.
"Too bad the weather," said Ulmer.
"It's what we expect at this time of the year," said Brang
wyn. He took out a cigarette, and three of his secretaries
hurried to light it.
"I wonder, sir . . ." said the correspondent of Midi-Soir.
"After all," the Foreign Secretary went on, "it isn't so
long since our national specialities were thought to be
spleen and fog."
"I wonder, sir," said the correspondent of Midi-Soir, "if
you would say something about the leakage. As you know,
it's causing some anxiety in France."
"Anything I said on that subject would be improper
and that's not for publication. But I will say this " the
Foreign Secretary leaned forward and pointed with his
finger towards the French journalist. "Nobody and nothing
can separate the British and French peoples " he hesitated
and formed the phrase "who are bound together in in
"They're saying in Paris my office called me half an
hour ago that you've called the French army a 'two-day
army/ That's been rankling on the Right as well as on the
Left. Is that your evaluation?"
"I'm not responsible for French press reports," Brangwyn
"But they're saying . . ."
"I'm not concerned with what they're saying. You mustn't
come to me for an exegesis of the Paris apocrypha."
During the laughter that followed, Ulmer wiped his
"But, Mr. Brangwyn . . ." he persisted.
"He's a menace, that chap," Lambert said in an under
tone to Padley. "You can count on him to add an anti
climax to every climax."
"Mr. Brangwyn," said Ulmer. "I gather the Communists
in Paris are making some capital out of this document. Can
we assume whether it was a leak or a piece of fiction that
the Communists had a hand in it?"
"I can only give you concrete information," said Brang
wyn with a deprecating smile. "You must rely for your con
clusions on your own invention."
Brangwyn's staff laughed, the correspondents laughed
and Ulmer threw up his hands.
The duty officer came and whispered in Vesper's ear.
"What's that?" said Brangwyn.
"The captain's compliments, sir," the officer said. "He got
your message. He says it's clearing a bit but he felt it might
be better ..."
"Give the captain my compliments," said Brangwyn,
"and tell him I feel it might be better if we took off as soon
"I do wish the Foreign Secretary wouldn't try and boss
the pilot," said Padley to Lambert. "He'll never learn that
they always use their own judgment."
The electric light in the lounge was becoming paler as
the fog outside thinned again from a yellow-black murk to
"It's drifting," said Lambert. "It shouldn't be long now."
With half his thought, as if listening to familiar music,
tired, and, for the first time since Brangwyn had handed
him the papers, at ease, Lambert listened to the Foreign
Secretary answering a number of general questions about
the Rome Conference. During the night that he kept the
report in his flat, he had sat fully dressed, reading, inter
mittently touching his breast-pocket for reassurance, de
termined not to sleep till he had delivered his papers to
Augier's "stringer." But later the following afternoon,
though liberated from his responsibilities, he had left the
Royal Academy still loaded with a burden of anxiety. If
Brangwyn ordered him to hand the report over, it must be
right to do so. It wasn't for him to make policy. All he had
to do was carry it out. His new posting would be a co
incidence, not a reward. Brangwyn had asked him to do it
because he thought well of him, because he trusted him,
because he had authority over him, because he could com
pel him, because he alone could release him. And Lambert
remembered the coastal road from St. Tropez to Le
Lavandou, and Eleanore's staring eyes as she drove through
the darkness towards the car-headlights that rose and wan
dered like searchlights over the dips in the hills.
Because Brangwyn had authority over him, he had agreed.
And because it was convenient. A Far East posting. And be
cause it was right. Brangwyn and Padley had both said so.
It was a deception. But sometimes a deception was nec
essary. Not a deception a feint, a mode of persuasion. It
happened every day. The State Department the Quai
d'Orsay they all did it. The French had done it a thousand
times. The deceivers would themselves be cuckolded.
Everything was all right. The report had appeared: the
uncertainty was over; the rest was Brangwyn's affair.
Lambert watched the Foreign Secretary, his heavy neck
spilling in little folds over his white collar, and thought of
the Fergussons, quiet and remote. He had known Fergus-
son for nearly fifteen years, and Valerie for three. Fergusson,
the lordling of obscure places in South America and
Lichtenstein, Salonika, Porto Rico, Morocco and Spain. He
had met him, a host or guest, on the fringe of conferences
when great companies of diplomats or officials arrived for
international meetings and the consuls helped in the en
tertainment of the British delegation. Since those days,
Fergusson had shrivelled.
But Valerie. She had seen him off at eight that morning,
handed him an unwanted packet of sandwiches as he
climbed into his car, and enjoined him to drive carefully.
He had looked at her young face, and her hands red with the
morning cold, and said, "See you soon." Then she had run
ahead of the car to the heavy gate leading to the lane by the
river and swung it open, and stood laughing and waving to
him as he drove away.
"Right-y-o, sir!" said an officer from the doorway.
"Will all passengers for Flight GWF kindly proceed to
the aircraft?" a voice came over the loudspeaker.
In a sudden uprising, pushing on hats, taking up brief
cases, the Foreign Office officials, with smiles and hand
shakes, followed Brangwyn and Sir James Padley to the
swing-doors that were held open by a stewardess.
"Darling, can I see you right onto the plane?" Mrs.
The Foreign Secretary halted just inside the door,
through which the fog blew in wisps.
"No," he said. "It's not encouraged. Didn't you see the
notice? In any case, it's very cold outside. Why not stay
"I wanted to give you this," she said, and began to pin a
small black cat, made of wool, onto his overcoat.
The photographers' bulbs flashed brilliantly around
them, and Brangwyn's eyes that had started with tears at his
wife's gesture, recovered their professional glaze as he
smiled for the cameras.
"Once again, ma'am," said a photographer, and Mrs.
Brangwyn repinned the mascot for a second series of photo
"Good luck, sir," a journalist shouted. The cry was taken
up by others, and Brangwyn waved.
Raising his coat collar, Lambert walked with the Foreign
Office party along the concrete of the marshalling apron as
far as the gangway, and waited for Brangwyn to shake hands
with him. But after a couple of flaccid handshakes to the
airport commandant, and the chairman of the airways com
pany, the Foreign Secretary began to cough and hurried
into the aeroplane. Sir James Padley stayed outside till the
"I hate the damn things," he said with a gesture to the
aeroplane. "I stay out of them as long as I can."
"Time to embark, sir," said an officer.
"Good-bye, Martin," Padley said.
"You did very well . . ."
". . . although it didn't quite come off."
Lambert smiled as he shook hands with Padley.
"I'm afraid it's kicked back a bit."
"Don't worry. In ten days' time no one will remember it.
See you in London."
Lambert returned to the lounge, glad of its bright
warmth after the damp of the airfield.
"Oh, lord, I've forgotten to give Andrew the aspirins,"
Mrs. Brangwyn suddenly complained. "Quick, somebody.
Is it too late to send them out there? Stewardess ..."
The aircraft, which had fallen silent after the engines
had warmed up, began to throb again, and trundled for
ward towards the runway, till at last it disappeared from
sight into the thick, discoloured atmosphere. Mrs. Brang
wyn pressed her face anxiously against the window, her
suede handbag crumpled between her fingers.
"It's all right, madam, they'll soon be up," said the re
ceptionist, who had been leaning forward over Mrs. Brang-
"Of course they'll soon be up," Mrs. Brangwyn said
sharply. "People who are anxious about aeroplanes
"Anything I can get for you, madam?"
"If I know Andrew," Mrs. Brangwyn said, ignoring her,
"he'll fall fast asleep, and won't wake up till he gets to
Rome. What time are you going back to London?"
"I'm waiting for the fog to clear a bit, and then I'm going
on to the country," Lambert answered.
"Well, let's have tea," said Mrs. Brangwyn. "And you
tell me who wants to be what, who's sleeping with who
whom and you know, everything. But first of all, tell me
how Ellen is!"
"Eleanore!" Lambert said.
'That's what I said," Mrs. Brangwyn replied.
Lambert straightened himself, prepared to offer again the
euphemisms that Mrs. Brangwyn expected to hear as she
settled herself in the wicker-chair with the safe, expectant
expression of one about to watch a fight from a comfortable
seat. Lambert ordered tea, and, in the same tone, said to
"She's drinking less."
"Yes. I thought you knew. She's been in a nursing home
near Toulon. ..."
Mrs. Brangwyn took a file of magazines from the table
and placed it on her knees.
"I'm so sorry. ... I didn't know it was as bad as that."
"Didn't you?" said Lambert. "I thought everyone knew.
The last time it happened she pushed her fist through
a thick windowpane. . . ."
"What a terrible thing to happen. An accident . . ."
"It wasn't an accident. It was deliberate."
From the public lounge came the sound of singing. A
party of French students, men and women who had already
been fog-bound for ten hours and were stretched out on
benches or bivouacked on the floor, had begun to sing in
chorus. Their voices, inharmonious, were an alien impreca
tion addressed to the wavering fog that had teased them for
a few moments when the Foreign Secretary's aeroplane had
taken off but had now descended again, stifling and brown,
to form smudges on the windowpanes, like the droppings of
a myriad beetles.
"What's that noise?" Mrs. Brangwyn asked. The tea she
was pouring slopped into the saucer.
"That awful row?" said Lambert. "They're singing 'La
"No, don't be silly/' said Mrs. Brangwyn. "Listen. Can't
Lambert put his biscuit on the plate and listened.
"I can't hear anything nothing except a ghastly din/'
Mrs. Brangwyn finished pouring out the tea, and was
about to raise the cup to her mouth when she stopped and
"There it is again. Listen!"
Punctuating the intervals of singing was the groan of an
aircraft's engines, rising and falling, fading and returning,
insistent and plaintive. Lambert and Mrs. Brangwyn
listened till the sound ebbed away.
"Somebody's trying to get in, I suppose," said Lambert.
"It's a horrible sound," said Mrs. Brangwyn. "The sound
of an aeroplane in the fog ... or at night. It isn't like the
sound of a train. A train's warm and sheltered even in a
fog. But a plane . . . Do listen, Martin," she put her hand
on his arm. "It's back again. It's like a child crying."
"Don't worry about it," Lambert said. "They've got the
whole thing absolutely buttoned up. When there's a fog like
this, they come in by radar."
With an emphatic, comforting dogmatism, he reassured
her, and she smiled.
"I suppose Andrew must be over the Channel by now,"
she said. "He's been gone nearly a quarter of an hour."
"Bound to be. I wish I were. I'm not looking forward to a
long drive in this."
"Everything all right, Mrs. Brangwyn?" said the officer of
the airline who had attended on the Foreign Secretary. He
had an easy courtesy that pleased both Lambert and Mrs.
"Everything's excellent," she said. "So glad the Foreign
Secretary got away as he did. Frightfully clever of you."
The officer didn't reply.
"Do tell me something," she said she put her fingers in
her ears "I simply can't stand the sound of that plane
it's as if it's lost. . . ."
"Oh, no," said the officer calmly. "We never lose planes.
They're all under control."
"Well, tell me how they do it."
She went to the window and raised the edge of the cur
tain. "I can't see a hand's breadth."
"It's a bit technical, madam. It's all done by what we call
G.C.A. ground-controlled approach. You see, say you're
a pilot . . . There's a fellow the talk-down controller
who'll talk to you by radio, and tell you your exact position
in relation to a predestined glide-path."
"I see," said Mrs. Brangwyn absently.
"You've already been picked up by ground radar. . . ."
"Yes . . ."
"Then it goes something like this . . . slightly left; very
slightly left of centre line; on the centre line; on the
centre. . . ."
"I see," said Mrs. Brangwyn. "I understand. Thank you
very much. Can you stop those people?"
The students were now singing "La Seine" at the top of
"See if you can do something," said Mrs. Brangwyn. Her
voice was a dismissal.
The officer and Lambert moved towards the lounge
"What's going on?" Lambert asked the officer.
"Nothing special," said the officer. "We're having some
trouble getting the Foreign Secretary's plane in."
"The Foreign Secretary's plane . . . ?"
"Yes. They've had to turn back. Trouble with an engine
possibly two. We've just had a message George Willy
Fox returning. Port engine out."
"Is it serious?' 1
The duty officer hesitated.
"It isn't, but you can't tell."
"What about the radar thing you've been talking about?"
"That's how we're bringing her in. But they've overshot
once. ... I don't think we can stop those people singing."
"Better not tell Mrs. Brangwyn . . . she looks a bit over
"No, of course not. . . . I'll go and sit with her."
Lambert returned to the lounge where Mrs. Brangwyn
was peering into the darkness over a hedge of artificial
"Well?" she asked.
"Nothing very much," he answered. "They're bringing
a few planes in. I wonder, Mary, if you'd like me to take you
back to town."
"No, thanks," she said. "I'm all right." She had returned
to the table and was folding menu cards into triangles and
"It's just that one feels so shut in here. Don't you think so?
With this fog. And all these frightful flowers. I don't know
why they do it, Martin. It makes me feel that I'm in a
crematorium. I expect the organ to begin to play at any
moment. Have you ever been in a crematorium?" Before
he could answer, she continued. "It's horrid so mechanical
and press-button. . . ."
"Let's have a drink, Mary," Lambert said. "Come on.
Whisky or Martini?"
He waited for her decision, but instead she pointed a
finger to the ceiling and said:
They both looked upwards, attentive to the mutter of an
aeroplane that grew steadily as the singing in the next
room dribbled to an exhausted end. And as they waited, the
sound seemed to become an evenly spaced cadence, de
clining and contented.
"It's coming in/' said Lambert.
Mrs. Brangwyn smiled, a delivered smile.
"Oh," she said. "I was so frightened/'
Her upper lip glistened where the light fell on her tilted
But suddenly, the dying murmur of the engines changed
into a great roar that made all the windowpanes of the
lounge rattle, as the aircraft soared from ground level into
snarling reluctant flight.
Lambert left her and hurried through the private door
to the runways. Two powerful fog lamps glared in his face,
and he heard the trill of a bell.
"This way, mate," someone shouted, and the ambulance
slowly veered away from the entrance to the passenger hall.
"What's happening?" he asked an officer who appeared
through the mist. His face became clear for a second in
the diffused glow from the lounge; it was pallid and a trickle
of sweat ran along the side of his check. "What's going
on?" Lambert repeated, but the officer didn't answer and
disappeared in the direction of the administrative head
With his hands in his coat pockets, Lambert walked to
wards the runway, not far from which he could hear voices
in the darkness, and see the lights of vehicles. He stopped
at a fire-engine and its crew who were standing by.
"What's happening?" he asked. No one answered.
The duty officer came and stood at his side.
"They'll take her over to Epsom, and back. Or maybe
they'll make a narrow turn if they pick her up. It's all under
Lambert waited in the fringe of light from the lounge.
He didn't want to return till the aircraft had landed. After
ten minutes, he heard the sounds of engines. Muffled by the
fog, they seemed to alternate from north and south, cough
ing and angry, then changing in tone, drooping and droop
ing, till the lights came in swelling over the far-off, invisible
"It's O.K.," said a fireman.
"Nicely, nicely," said an airfield official. "Very nice in
They heard the aircraft touch down about three hundred
yards away with a gentle thump.
"She's done it," said the fireman.
Within a second the thump changed into a howl, a pro
longed scream as if the propellers were being dragged along
the concrete. The plane rose with its engines revving,
agonising to become airborne, then crashed, its lights ex
tinguished, in a long trailing skid beyond their sight.
As Lambert stared into the darkness, silent with the
others, a flame like the first, joyful signal of a bonfire rose
from the periphery of the airfield. Blazing in a brief
illumination, it died, then flared again in a tall column that
lit the fog-clouds with gigantic, turbulent reflections,
purple and red and yellow. But even while the ambulances
and fire-engine with bells ringing began to edge their way
through the swaddling fog the fires began to fall into little
flames, designing the shape of the aircraft like fairy lamps.
Lambert started to follow the red light from the rear of a
"They've bought it," he heard a voice, thick and shocked,
through the darkness. "All of them. The whole lot. They've
bought it. They've bought it."
Lambert stopped, and ran towards the buildings where
an officer was ordering the passengers who had crowded to
the doors to remain inside. "Where's Mrs. Brangwyn?" he
"Who are you?" asked the officer.
The officer jerked his head towards the small lounge.
"She's in there. They're looking after her."
Lambert knocked at the door, and went in. A receptionist
was sitting at Mrs. Brangwyn's side, and holding her wrists.
"Martin," the Foreign Secretary's wife cried out when
she saw him, her voice rising to a distraught shriek. "The
aspirins! Oh my poor darling I didn't give him the
UNDER THE WHEELS, the ground crackled with frost as Lam
bert drove his car past the postern-light that had guided him
for the last two miles through the countryside towards the
Priory. Valerie opened the door, and ran into the drive to
"How are you?" she asked. "I was getting so worried."
Lambert noticed that she was wearing a white blouse and
a black taffeta skirt, and said, "Go in, quickly. It's freezing."
She laughed, and answered, "You still treat me like a little
girl. Have you eaten?"
He hesitated, and she said, "Of course, you haven't. Do
come in. Daddy's gone to bed. You know his heart mis
"I didn't know," said Lambert, following her into the
library. The fire, heavily stoked, and the table-lamps blaz
ing into his eyes after the long drive made him dizzy, and he
sat in one of the tapestried arm-chairs.
"I hope it's nothing serious," he said.
"Oh, no," said Valerie, casually. "Just old age."
Her face was indifferent as she went to the side-table
where she had prepared for him a tray of chicken and salad.
"Daddy asked me to leave out the whisky and soda for
"That was kind of him he's very thoughtful."
"But I wanted to feed you myself."
After serving him, she sat on a cushion with her arms
clasped around the neck of a red setter that sprawled across
her lap. She laid her face against the dog's ear, and said, "I
almost gave you up at twelve."
"You see, I had to go back to London first with Mary
. . . Mrs. Brangwyn. . . ."
"I'm so sorry. It must have been quite horrible. . . .
Please have some more of this chicken."
Remote from her experience. Twenty-two dead. Have
"No one can feel everything," said Lambert aloud.
"What did you say?" Valerie asked, bringing him a platter
"I was rambling," said Lambert.
"No," she said. "Tell me what you were thinking."
"I was thinking," said Lambert, "that you can read in the
papers of twenty thousand drowned in China eighty-three
killed in a train disaster in Mozambique hundreds dying
of cholera in Madras. If you apply your mind to it, you'll
feel sorry sympathetic. But if someone you love breaks a
leg, you'll know the difference."
"Yes," said Valerie. "Do you know, it seems so obvious,
but I'd never thought of it before."
"It was like that during the war," Lambert continued.
"You weren't nearly as worried about who was going to win
as with whether you were going to get a letter from home
what the people you liked were doing whether they were
having a good time whether they remembered you all
much more immediate and important than a major battle
ten miles away."
"Did you hate the war?" Valerie asked.
"No," said Lambert. "No. I didn't hate it. That's just it.
I was only in it for three years eighteen months in Italy.
But when I think back to those years even with all the
pangs of being away I don't think I've ever been quite as
happy. It had an easy predestination. You were there and
that was the end of it. Nothing to be done about it except
relax and go with the others."
"And when you came home?"
He didn't answer, and she came and sat at the foot of his
arm-chair. The red setter, neglected, wandered idly round
the room till at last it stretched itself in front of the fire.
"Tell me," she said, "what did you feel this afternoon?
The nine o'clock news was so cold and antiseptic. Was it
"Yes. It was dreadful. Absolutely horrifying."
"But was it was it like twenty thousand Chinese or was
The puckered forehead and her watchful, apologetic eyes
contradicted the probing insensitivity of her question.
"It was personal," he said.
"You're angry with me," she replied.
"No, not a bit, Valerie. You were perfectly right to ask."
"I only wanted to know," she said, "because I didn't want
to think of you being miserable and unhappy."
"I see," said Lambert. And touched her lightly on the
"Still upl Still up!" said Fergusson, who had quietly en
tered the room. He was wearing a wine-coloured dressing
gown and blue silk pyjamas. "Or should I say 'Still down!' "
he went on. "At your age, Valerie, I was always in bed by
midnight. And here you are, gorging yourself at twenty to
one. I'll have a whisky and soda."
"Dr. Wilson . . ." Valerie began.
". . . is incompetent," her father went on. "I'm feeling
splendid, and a whisky and soda will make me even better.
To think, Martin, that I should have spawned a teetotal
He threw a small log on the fire and settled himself in
the arm-chair facing Lambert.
"I'm sorry about this afternoon, Martin."
"What are they going to do at the F.O.?"
"I don't know. I haven't heard anything."
They sat silent for a few moments till Fergusson said in
his slow, hesitant voice, "The B.B.C. said there was one
"Padley it's quite hopeless. He was unconscious when
I left the hospital. He's got a fractured skull and burns. He's
"Pity," said Fergusson. "Great pity. He was excellent, I
always thought. And now they've made that pipsqueak
Baggott Acting Permanent Under-Secretary. Can you im
agine it? Baggott!"
Lambert looked up quickly.
"How do you know all this?"
"The wireless, my dear boy. Extraordinary invention!
But Baggott that tuft-hunter. . . . I'm sorry, Martin. I'm
afraid I've put my foot in it again. The trouble with you
is that you're so loyal to your acquaintances. Perhaps he's
an old friend of yours?"
"No, indeed not. Baggott's an old enemy of mine. He
once tried to push me out of the Foreign Service. Padley
"I shouldn't worry about that," said Fergusson. "As
long as you stick to the book and only tread on the faces
below you, you can be sure of a dazzling career. Actually,
I've decided to devote my decline to a study of orthodoxy
"How much have you written?" Lambert asked.
"So far, only the title which I like very much: 'Ortho
doxy, Paradox and Heresy/ "
On the other side of Lambert, Valerie altered the position
of her cushion and leaned her face against the arm of his
chair, while he himself lay back in weariness, listening to
Fergusson's ponderous description of his book. Between the
curtains was the clear night sky and the hard starlight.
Impossible even to visualise the fog that earlier that evening
an east wind had blown away. In this safe room, with its
comfortable voices, Lambert was far from the airfield and
its silences. The silence after the aeroplane crashed. The
silence of the passengers when the first ambulance drove
back. The silence when he himself left with his half-sister.
The silence offensively broken by the hiccuping sobs of
a woman onlooker.
Now it was all over. And all that remained was weari
ness; neither shock, nor horror, nor even grief. Tomorrow
he would think of Padley. Tomorrow he would remember
and mourn him. And Brangwyn. Tomorrow. Brangwyn
heavy, finger-pointing, oppressive. That was all over.
Brangwyn no longer weighed on his spirit. There was no
purpose in pretending. He felt relief.
"I begin with the paradox " said Fergusson, "a paradox
in an age that reserves its admiration for the nonconformist
that the heretic isn't always right. In fact, my theme is
that today's heretic may well be tomorrow's fathead."
'Til give you four examples of yesterday's heresies that
are today's orthodoxies," said Lambert in order to assure
Fergusson of his interest. Wondering how soon he could
politely go to bed, he lay back again in his chair, with
his arms drooping at the side.
"Tell me one a heresy of faith/' said Fergusson.
"Very well a classic example the possibility of the
antipodes . . ."
"I'm not concerned with that," said Fergusson. "I'm
thinking of the Nestorians, the Monophysites, and the
Monomelites. What's happened to them? They've gone
all of them defeated by the stream of an irresistible ortho
doxy. There's no sign in religious belief that the antithesis
produces a synthesis. A heresy inside a faith must either
destroy it or die itself. That's the weakness of Hegel. He
never could understand the true nature and strength of
orthodoxy. He mixed it up with a bogus conformity. He's
the chief corrupter of Europe."
Valerie shut her eyes as her father's voice grew more
"But orthodoxy/' said Lambert, "is merely a stage in a
developing process. There's never been a system of dogma
that you can't trace historically to some heresy. Orthodoxy
is merely the point where the system temporarily freezes."
He altered his position, and his hand touched Valerie's
fingers at the far side of the chair. She made no motion,
her head lay drowsily on the padded tapestry, and Lambert
looked quickly down at her fair hair opening slightly at
the nape of her neck. The tips of his fingers touched the
crook of her forefinger, but she didn't withdraw her hand.
"That's a bad metaphor," said Fergusson. "Orthodoxy
isn't static it isn't frozen. It's more like a main stream
moving in a determined direction. The heresy is the devia
tion, the self-indulgent the private departure. I give noth
ing for your rebels."
Lambert extended his finger, and he felt Valerie's hand
open and close around it, tentatively at first, then firmly and
in assurance. *
"You agree with Brangwyn?"
"With Brangwyn with Brangwyn," Fergusson said
thoughtfully. "No. Brangwyn was never a genuine con
servative. The orthodoxy of British conservatism comes
from Greece and Rome and Nazareth. Brangwyn was a
heretic. He despised the Mediterranean, and fiddled with
the German philosophers."
Their hands moved like a conversation. He opened her
fingers till her palm was wide and moist, and enfolded
them, with his palm pressed against hers, in his own. Their
fingers withdrew, explored each other lightly, and returned
in a clasp, firm and tense.
"I'm sorry about Brangwyn," said Fergusson. "I wish,
though, he could have left more quietly. Mind you, he's
had one bit of luck."
"What's that?" asked Lambert.
"He won't have to explain away the leakage."
"There's no point in shooting a dead duck."
Lambert looked at Fergusson with distaste. From the
neck of his dressing gown sprouted a tuft of white hair,
and Lambert's glance fastened on it with revulsion.
"I imagine the whole thing's over now."
"Very likely!" said Fergusson. "You never can tell though
how the P.M. will deal with a thing like this. . . ."
"Why the P.M.?"
"Well, I assume hell look after the Foreign Office till
there's a new appointment. It's traditional. And besides,
he's got every reason to do so."
"You mean Brandon and Macpherson?"
"That's one reason. It's always a grevious problem when
you have two Ministers both putative Foreign Secretar
ies who think they ought to be marked up to Number
Two. . . ."
"I'd be delighted," said Lambert, "if the P.M. took over
the F.O. and kept it."
"I'm not so sure/' said Fergusson. "Prime Ministers
usually make bad Foreign Secretaries. Anyhow, I'm tired
of diplomacy by inspiration. Brangwyn gave us too much
of it. And if now it's going to be festooned with the P.M.'s
He waved his hands in deprecation and looked down at
his daughter. "Poor Valerie! Fast asleep. Fast asleep. These
young people . . ."
Behind the screen of the arm-chair she had taken Lam
bert's hand in hers, held it for a second with an access of
pressure against her blouse, and then released it.
Fergusson tinkled his glass against the siphon, and Valerie
raised her face, one side of it flushed, the other pale, and
blinked at her father.
"Come on, Valerie," he said. "Time for bed."
In his familiarly brusque manner, he rose, wound the
clock on the chimney-piece, and said, "Night!" to Lambert
who had risen as well.
When Fergusson had gone, Lambert walked to the table
by the chair and took a cigarette. Valerie still sat on the
cushion near the fire, without looking at him.
"I think I'd better be getting to bed," said Lambert.
Then he went over to her and helped her to her feet. She
stood in front of him without speaking, and without meet
ing his eyes. He put his hand on the side of her hair and
raised her face. She looked at his eyes, and away again.
"Shall we go for a long walk tomorrow?" he asked.
"That would be very nice," she answered.
They heard the returning footsteps of her father, and
drew apart from each other. Fergusson pushed the door
open, and Lambert leaned against the fireplace.
"Why don't you go to bed, Valerie?" Fergusson asked
The dog, sleepily stirring its tail, came and licked his
ankles, but Fergusson kneed it aside. "Off you go, Fausto,"
he said, and the setter, intimidated by the jussive tone,
trotted lugubriously through the open door.
"I was just going, Father/' she answered. "I was going to
turn off the lights."
"I'll do that," said Fergusson. Like a horse changing foot
in mid- trot, he hesitated, and changed his tone. "Oh, Mar
tin, I forgot to tell you: there was a call for you this evening
from somebody called Barraclough."
"Yes, Colonel Barraclough. He wanted you to ring him
tomorrow morning at the War Office."
"Barraclough!" Lambert repeated. "Don't know him."
They both watched Valerie as she turned off the switches
by the door, leaving the room in shadow except for a wreath
of light from a table-lamp between the two men.
"Good-night," she said. "And don't settle down again,
When she had closed the door behind her, Fergusson said
to Lambert, "She's a nice child."
"Very," said Lambert. "Very nice."
"But I'm worried about her doesn't make any friends.
You see, I've rather discouraged the local stockbrokery."
"I shouldn't worry about that," said Lambert. "After all,
she's going to Oxford next year. She'll have dozens of
"She's very retiring, you know. Very timid. I wanted her
to go up this year," Fergusson spoke the words as if they- were
a defiance, and added, "She insisted on spending it here."
"It won't harm her," said Lambert. "She'll probably do a
lot of reading and I suppose she knows at least some of
"I don't like them."
Lambert laughed. "Well/* he said, "you probably have
friends down from London."
"I haven't any friends in London. None that I've kept.
Ask me about my acquaintances on the Costa Brava in
Famagusta Rabat Corinth I'll give you a list as long
as your arm. . . . London's different. I can't think of six
people in London whom I'd want to ask to dinner."
Lambert, who had begun to laugh again, stopped as he
saw that Fergusson's expression had fallen into a fold of
"I'm very worried about Valerie," said Fergusson. He
stubbed an ember back onto the fire with his slipper. "It's
difficult for her without her mother. And it's very lonely for
her here. You can understand it can't you, Martin?"
"Yes," said Lambert. "But it's only temporary. In a year
or two you'll scarcely recognise her, just as I find it hard to
see in her the schoolgirl I met only two or three years ago."
"I was wondering," said Fergusson. "Advise me I was
wondering if I shouldn't send her for six months to France.
Do you know some good family not in Paris I think
somewhere in the provinces not in the South in Bor
deaux or somewhere like that?"
"I don't know offhand," said Lambert. "But I'll have a
word next week with someone in the Department who deals
"What perplexities!" said Fergusson, stretching himself.
"It's bad enough to be an only child! But to be an only
"Have you thought of marrying again?" asked Lambert.
"Yes," said Fergusson. "I am old, ugly and of limited
means. The desperate woman who might want to marry me
is quite definitely not the woman I would want to marry my
self. Besides, all that is nothing to me any more. I've escaped
from the beast. All that concerns me now is Valerie. She is
the last and best thing I have."
In the blackness of an unfamiliar room, Lambert awoke a
few hours later and began to grope, panic-stricken, for the
electric switch. A nightmare, shapeless and oppressive, had
wrenched him, with his heart toiling, from a restless sleep.
He felt for the light along the cold painted surface of the
wall, and failing, subsided for a moment into a half-dream
of a place that had walls and no door; and then, awake, he
lay panting in the dark, his chest and back trickling with
sweat. Like the frame of a silver-grey aquarelle, the window,
with its drawn curtains, exposed in front of him the sky
lightened by the rising moon behind the house. He listened
to the tolling, the dull, steady thud of his heart-beat in his
ear, till the window, now clearly defined, became precise
and led his thought from the dream into waking.
He awoke with the name "Barraclough" in his mind.
Barraclough. Barraclough. The name had a rhythm like
A Elsa, chaque battement de mon coeur.
To Eleanore, each beat of my heart. He had sent her a
book of poems from Italy in 1944. Each heart-beat. And,
years later in France, he had found it abandoned under a
pile of magazines Elle, Lui et Moi 3 Nous Deux that was
the sort of magazine she liked.
He resolved not to think of Barraclough not of Barra
clough nor of the airport nor of the fire and the stench of
burning petrol, mingled with fog, that persisted like a con
tamination in his nostrils.
Valerie was somewhere in the house, young and asleep.
And Fergusson, watchful and disappointed, in his large and
comfortless bed, would rise tomorrow with his burden of
grievance and pessimism and defeat.
Lambert turned his pillow over, and remembered
Valerie's hand, warm and articulate in his, a confidence, a
secret communication. A secret communication.
He switched on his bedside lamp. Now he knew who
Barraclough was. He had met him three months ago on a
Foreign Office committee which had been attended by
representatives of the War Office. A picture of the oval table
had come into his brain with Barraclough sitting at the far
end near the door next to Gorse-Jones. He had only spoken
two words. Brangwyn had asked if the Conference arrange
ments had been cleared with War Office Security. And
Barraclough had answered, "Yes, sir."
Barraclough. Colonel Barraclough.
Lambert got out of bed, put on his slippers and a dressing-
gown, and lit a cigarette. Obviously there would be ques
tions in the House about it, and the Prime Minister would
have to answer. The Department would normally have
dealt with the P.Q.; normally, Padley would have drafted
the reply. With Brangwyn. But this wasn't merely a depart
mental matter. It was a leak. A British Cabinet paper had
been published in the French press. It was strange very
strange that he himself already knew everything that the
Prime Minister and the War Office Barraclough would
now seek by every means of inquiry to discover, and yet he
felt as if he were a stranger to it all, an observer of incidents
in which he had no part, remembering those who acted in
them as if they were characters in a play that has ended its
run. The thought of meeting Barraclough gave him a vague
uneasiness. Repudiated, it returned, insistently, till he
decided that he would telephone him immediately after
breakfast. He would listen to what he had to say. Then he
would know how much to tell him. He would say nothing
about the meeting with Brangwyn and Padley at the
Foreign Office. That was the understanding. Nothing about
Augier. Nothing. He'd given his word to Brangwyn. And
Brangwyn was dead. And to Padley. And Padley was dying.
The dead and the dying. No one knew about it but himself.
No one, anywhere.
The sweat between his shoulder-blades had dried, and
tranquilly he finished his cigarette, turned off the light and
went back to bed. Lying in the darkness he thought of
Barraclough and the Brangwyn Report. There was no get
ting away from it to deliver a Foreign Office paper to a
foreign country even to an ally was treason, a betrayal.
Curious. He had been asked, by Brangwyn, as a patriotic
duty to perform an act of treason. And he had done it. Like
a spy. With the tricks and furtiveness of a spy.
Now Brangwyn was dead. And Padley was dying. No one
now could tell how he had come to give a departmental re
port to a French newspaper. None except himself. That was
all there was to it.
And if Barraclough questioned him, he would say he
knew nothing. Barraclough could go and ask Brangwyn or
Padley. They were the only two, apart from himself, who
knew everything. The only two who could vouch for him;
the only two who could exculpate him. The dead and the
Lambert moved his hand to switch on the light, but in
stead lay back and thought of Brangwyn and Padley. They
were the only two who could vouch for him; the only two
who could exculpate him; the only two who knew why
he had given the report to Le Monde Populaire. The dead
and the dying.
"Is IT POSSIBLE/' Valerie wrote in her diary a thick ex
ercise book with stiff, black covers rubbed by nearly a year's
daily handling "Is it possible," she began, remembering
the garden in summer, the sprig of wistaria plucked from
the bush and above all the warm dry hand, enclosing hers
and making it secure the autumn sun that yellowed the
fields and striped the woods a reddish brown shone through
the small square panes of her window with a faint warmth
on her forehead. "Is it possible to love someone" she
wrote and calculated and shrank from the statistic "sev
eral years older than oneself?"
It was very puzzling. Her father, exhausted by a night of
insomnia because she had forgotten to collect his sleeping
pills from Dr. Wilson the day before, had decided to stay
in bed, and she had walked with Lambert for two hours
along the canal path and through Deason's Wood to Mer-
chison. All the time he had talked to her about Trollope's
novels, her school and whether a history or classics degree
was more useful for practical purposes. But nothing,
nothing, absolutely nothing about what had happened. It
was as if he hadn't noticed, or had forgotten, that she had
sat at his side and that he had taken her hand and she his;
as if their palms had never clasped each other in the slow
rotation that sent a poignant, secret pleasure into her breasts
and through all her body.
She put down her pen, and lay on the chintz-covered bed
with her face in the pillow to recall it. The pleasure was
strange and private, and welled and descended. She shut her
eyes and clasped and unclasped her hands, thinking of his
fingers enfolding hers with their dry warmth and strength.
After he gave her the wistaria, she had thought of their
walk in the garden for many months, asking herself con
stantly why he had given it to her. The question used to
come into her mind at all sorts of odd times. During prep.
In the Coffee Club when everybody was babbling away and
she was sitting apart from the others in the chair by the
door, and, unexpectedly, Miss Fretts had asked in her con
tralto voice, "Worried about your Scarlatti?" because she
was due to play a sonata in the school concert, but actually,
she was thinking of the wistaria and of Lambert a sensa
tion, rather than a thought and she said, "Yes no," and
everyone stopped talking and laughed. And sometimes after
dinner when her father had fallen into one of his morose
silences. But it was best of all at night before she fell asleep.
Then, flat on her stomach, she would go over the events of
that afternoon in their sequence, always starting with the
surprising moment when he asked her to walk in the
When she saw his name in newspapers or when she heard
her father mention it in passing, trying as she heard it to
look casual, it was the image of the walk in the garden that
shone on the screen of her mind and his farewell smile that
touched her throat.
She had gone back to her room, and watched his car
turn below the hill onto the road. And afterwards she had
sat weeping for half an hour in front of the looking-glass
till her face was blotched and red, and her nose swollen with
a catarrhal flow so that her father made her go to bed as she
had a cold.
But the memory of his hands was a different memory, not
in her eyes, nor in her brain nor her throat. It was in the
dark of her pillow where there was no thought, no faces,
no people, no places; unrelated to time or incident; the
memory of the mysterious convulsions of their hands stirred
in her breasts and thighs as they pressed against the bed, a
pleasure that grew and trembled and made her want to
burst into tears and dissolve in the secure darkness.
Valerie turned the pillow over to cool her face, and then
raised herself to examine her appearance in the mirror.
Horrible!" she said aloud, dabbed her cheeks with a
powder-puff so that white dust lay over the persistent flush,
and hurried down the staircase to where Lambert was
"Would you like to climb up to Gavin's Leap?" she asked
him. "It's about four hundred feet. We could easily get up
and back before dark if you're not too tired and if you
don't mind climbing."
"I'm not too tired, and I'm an excellent climber," he
answered stiffly. "I climbed the Mottarone last summer."
"There," Valerie said, "I've hurt your feelings. I'm so
sorry. Where is the Mottarone? I'm terribly ignorant."
"In Italy. I spent a week there before I went on to
"How wonderful to travel," she said, guiding him to the
footpath that led to the hill. "I've always longed to go to
"I thought you liked it here."
"I do. But I want to go away all the same. You don't know
what it's like to hear a name like like . . ."
"Like Perugia . . ."
"Yes, Perugia. It's like hearing an orchestra warming up.
You hear all sorts of tiny little ripples and squiggles going
up and down you. But you couldn't possibly understand.
You're always travelling to somewhere wonderful. It's com
monplace for you. Does Eleanore like travelling?"
"She used to. She doesn't much now."
"Did she climb with you?"
"No. She stayed in Cavalaire she had lots of friends
there and she's keen on swimming."
"Oh, but I like swimming too ... I'd never have let
you go climbing without me."
Careless and energetic, she was walking slightly ahead of
him with her hair blowing in the afternoon breeze.
"I adore climbing," she went on. "Whenever I see monu
ments and churches and mountains, I always want to climb
to the top of them."
"What a singular passion!" said Lambert.
"Is it?" she asked. "It seems terribly normal to me. I just
want to look down on miles and miles of countryside and
clasp it. Has Eleanore ever climbed?"
"Yes. . . . She used to like it. We climbed a bit in
America. But when we came back to Europe, she became
interested in other things."
"I see," said Valerie, and they walked through the birch-
wood at the bottom of the hill in silence.
But in his mind as they walked was the memory of the
early afternoon in the summer when he returned from Italy,
driving in low gear up the steep dusty road that led from
the Route Nationale to the hotel. Eleanore heard the car
from the window and came to meet him.
"Hello, darling," she said. "Did you have a lovely time?"
"Yes," he answered. "I missed you."
She was standing under the bougainvillaea by the flight of
steps, her skin browner against the primrose jacket than
when he had left.
"How have you been?" he asked, taking her arm.
1 'Good!" she answered.
"Very good. I lay on the beach and sunbathed bathed a
few times and waited for you to come back. It's been
madly hot. "
She took his arm, and they walked together in rhythm,
their sandals clacking on the stone stairs to their bedroom.
He kissed her neck and said, "Come and talk to me while
I have a shower."
"No, darling," she said. "I like talking to you from here."
She took off her bolero jacket and skirt and lay on the bed
with her legs crossed and propped herself against the
"Did you see any of the crowd from the Aioli?" he asked
through the hiss of the shower.
"They came over once or twice," she answered. "Benghi
and Simon the Courcins the two French girls Marjorie
and that frightful husband of hers. . . . But it's been so
sweltering. Much too hot to move."
She was fanning herself with a copy of Le Provengal.
"How nice and brown you look," she said when he came
into the room with a towel over his shoulders. "And so
cool! You haven't dried your back. . . ."
"Did you go over there too?" he asked, sitting on the bed.
As she dried his shoulders, he looked over the cork trees
to the sea, glittering in the afternoon sunlight. In the shade
. of a tamarisk, a nursemaid by the side of a sleeping child was
languidly knitting; but otherwise, the hotel and the ter
races and the serpentine road to the sea were drowsy, as if a
huge bee were mumbling a subdued accompaniment to the
interminable chirp of the cicadas.
"I'm so glad you're back," said Eleanore. "So glad, Mar
tin. I get frightened when you're away. . . ."
"Frightened of what?"
She had stopped drying his shoulders, and passed her
fingers around his waist and pressed her face into his back.
"I don't know/' she said. "I'm just frightened. I want you
to come back, and reassure me."
He twisted around and watched her face, timid and ex
pectant, and kissed her soft, absorbing mouth that opened
and enclosed his.
"I love you very much," she said. "Lock the door, Martin.
The chambermaid does the room in the afternoon."
Her eyes were wide and alert, watching him, and he drew
away from her.
"Don't look at me like that," she said. "Come back, my
He pressed the latch of the door, and when he returned
to her, she drew him above her, her arms clasped around his
shoulders, her eyes shut tightly with a small intense frown
Afterwards, they had dressed, and driven to the beach for
a bathe. Andre Courcin, an industrialist, and his wife,
Solange, whom he had known when he worked in Paris, the
American honeymoon couple who had the next umbrella,
and Lindfors, the economist from Geneva, were already
there. They greeted Lambert clamorously, and towards five
o'clock, Courcin suggested that they might take pedal-boats
a few hundred yards out and swim underwater.
"Not for me, dear," said Madame Courcin. "I will walk
along the beach with Mitou."
She assembled her beach-bag, the Balenciaga cape that
went with her check costume, her medallion necklace, her
two bracelets and Mitou, the dog, who in a spatter of sand
struggled to escape from her grip. Once Madame Courcin's
hands were fully occupied, she decided to wear her straw
sunhat. The men stood around, offering gestures of help,
declined by Madame Courcin in a recitative of her inten
tions. At last, she shook hands with everyone, put on her hat,
slipped the lead on Mitou's collar and, with pauses and ex
hortations to the reluctant dog that reached them long
after she had disappeared behind the coloured umbrellas,
began her promenade.
"She's gone," said Courcin. "Now we can have sport."
He was a tall, sunburnt man in early middle-age, power
ful, abrupt and imperative. He rarely spoke to his wife, and
when she said anything with which he disagreed, would
laugh quietly to himself, a domesticated laugh that some
times escaped through his teeth.
"Come on, Lambert," he said. "You and I will pedal.
Madame Lambert will sit in the back. And we'll take it in
turn to watch the boat."
"Oh, no," said Eleanore. "I'm much too tired. You two
"Impossible," said Courcin in his loud, gusty voice. "It is
essential for one to guard the boat."
"You go, Per," Eleanore said to Lindfors.
He picked up a handful of sand, and let it dribble be
tween his fingers. "I wouldn't dream of usurping your
place," he said.
"What about you, Marian?" she said to the American girl
who lay holding her husband's hand.
"Sorry," she said lazily. "I only pedal with my husband."
"Come on, Eleanore," said Lambert. "Courcin can hold
the boat while we swim."
The others watched the three of them walk to the pedal-
boat, and Lindfors said, "She's a very beautiful woman."
"Lovely!" said the American. And his wife flung his hand
aside and turned her back.
Paddling the boat as it rose and fell lightly on the waves
at the horn of the bay, Lambert listened contentedly to the
hum of voices from the beach, broken sometimes by the
screams from the raft nearly fifty yards away where the
bathers clustered till it toppled in a half-swoon. The sun
lay with a steady warmth on his back and diamonded the
sea all around with its fragmented light. Eleanore swam
idly around the pedal-boat, turning from time to time to
drift with her face to the sun, while Courcin, be-goggled
and wearing a breathing apparatus, kept disappearing in
prolonged, submarine journeys from which he emerged
at last, panting and mysterious.
"Come, Eleanore," he said as they both clung to the boat.
'Tut on your goggles, and I'll show you a forest of algae."
"No, thank you," she answered. "I'm going to sunbathe."
"Oh, please," he persuaded her. "A short journey ;
you'll be surprised. They're pink and purple and dark
green. Look down."
Eleanore took the glasses from the float and, after swim
ming a few strokes, dived with Courcin away from the
shore. Lambert waited for them to reappear, and leaned
over the side and peered into the clear waters made trans
lucent to their depths by the sunlight. But the water where
he looked for Eleanore's white cap was unbroken. After a
minute and a half, he dived in, swimming in deeper circles,
blinking his eyes into the dagger-like crystals of the waves.
He rose again and scanned the water anxiously, looking at
the blank horizon and from there to the shouting, indif
ferent children nearer the shore. In a sudden panic, he dived
He heard Eleanore's voice from the raft, as the water
came bubbling over his ears.
She was standing next to Courcin, who, leaning against
the diving board, waved cheerfully towards him. She dived
off the side, and swam in a powerful, threshing crawl to
wards the pedal-boat, while Courcin, in his goggles and
breathing apparatus, plunged underwater and only rose
with dripping hair when he was close to the float.
"It was wonderful," Eleanore said as Lambert helped her
Her eyes were lit with radiant achievement as she pulled
off her cap.
"We went right down almost to the sea-bed. It's extraor
dinary what you see there. The colours!"
"I didn't know what had happened to you," said Lambert.
"I thought . . ."
"Oh, my darling! I was perfectly all right. It's beautifully
clear." She kissed his cheek in excitement. "Let's go to
Porquerolles tomorrow. Andre says it's wonderful swim
ming underwater by the rocks."
Courcin rolled over in the water in two somersaults, and
heaved himself onto the back of the float.
"The best underwater swimming is by the rocks," he said.
"The molluscs are very interesting. You two paddle. I'm
"You're lazy," said Eleanore. "That's why you're getting
"I am not fat/' said Courcin, with his arms behind his
head. "I am a muscular man relaxing."
He shut his eyes and sang "Tiens-toi plus pres de moi" at
the top of his voice, as Lambert and Eleanore paddled the
boat towards the shore, and Eleanore, holding her husband's
naked, sun- warmed arms in hers, said, "Martin, it's been
such a wonderful afternoon. Let's always be like this!"
After they had dressed in their beach clothes, Eleanore
in her shorts and yellow jacket, they had gone for drinks to
the Abri. A waiter rolled back the green-striped awning, and
on the terrace, high above the sea, watching the yachts
returning into the small harbour, they drank Cinzano and
Pernod, and listened to Courcin's stories of his life in North
"In the desert," he said, "I could drink anything any
thing at all. I could drink water from the wells where the
camels had been wallowing. But nothing! I was never ill
with fever from drinking. . . ."
He threw his arms around the back of his wrought-iron
chair, and said, "I was once bitten by a sand-crab. Nothing!"
His shirt fell open over his dark brown, barrel-shaped
chest. "I was lost with prospectors for four days. . . ."
"I know," said Eleanore. "But nothing!"
She was sitting next to Courcin opposite Lambert, and a
slow accomplice smile passed between their eyes. She had
drunk two glasses of Pernod, but she was quite calm and her
look was tranquil.
"All right," said Courcin, addressing himself to Lambert.
"I will tell you about the time "
Lambert put up his hand.
"Tomorrow, Andr. We've got to get back. We've a long
"Yes," said Eleanore, her elbows on the table, her face
gentle with the ease of their companionship.
Lambert had put his jacket on the white gravel under
neath his chair, and bent to pick it up. In the moment that
he did so, he saw among the sandals beneath the table one
of his wife's feet with her incarnadined nails pressed slen
derly against the white bar at the base, while her other leg
hung dependent over Courcin's knee, their bare thighs
mingled, her flesh golden against his black hair.
"We must swim again tomorrow," said Courcin, stretch
ing both arms behind his head. "Tomorrow, Eleanore, I'll
take Martin to the submarine caves. Underwater's for mer-
maids, not for women. What do you say, Martin?"
Eleanore opened her mouth to speak, but her glance met
her husband's and the expression in her eyes changed.
"I think we'd better go, Eleanore," said Lambert. He put
on his jacket, turned away from Courcin, shook hands with
the three Frenchmen and Madame Courcin, and walked
quickly, with Eleanore hurrying ahead of him, to their car.
She got into the driving seat, and reversed angrily into an
earthenware pitcher full of geraniums, ignored the moni
tory shouts of the waiters, and drove off, fast, downhill
towards the coastal road.
At the first sharp bend, overhung by rocks, she pressed
her brakes hard till they squealed in the skid, eased the
pressure as she swung the steering wheel hard to avoid an
oncoming Citroen, then accelerated for a hundred yards of
straight descent, overtaking a lorry on a curve with the
outer wheel grumbling on the edge of the cliff.
"You'll kill yourself," said Lambert.
"I don't care," she answered, urging the car towards the
mauve sky and the invisible corniche at the foot of the
silhouetted hills. Her eyes were staring into the dusk,
angry and aggrieved.
"You behaved abominably."
"Yes you did. You insulted Andr< after he behaved so
beautifully towards us."
Lambert didn't answer. His wife was driving now at over
sixty miles an hour, and in the night that had suddenly
fallen, the headlamps of the cars dipping and surging over
the coastal road, wandered in the sky like searchlights.
"It's no good, Eleanore," he said at last. "What" he
stopped with a sense of humiliation, and started again,
"What's going on between you and Courcin?"
"You're mad!" she answered. "Mad. Stark staring mad.
Whatever makes you think there's anything between Andre
"Do you want to know in detail?"
"Yes." Her mouth was determined, and she accelerated
again as he began to speak.
"In that case, I'll tell you."
Anger replaced humiliation. The tangle of flesh twisted
in his viscera.
"This afternoon I thought for a few hours that we
could begin again. I thought it when we lay on the bed. . . .
I thought it when we were swimming. . . . And I thought
it when you smiled to me across the table. I thought it till
I picked my coat up from the ground. , . . Oh, what's the
use of talking about it. . . ."
"I want you to talk about it. Go on. Say it. . . ."
"You were smiling to me and all the time . . . you and
Courcin . . ."
"You're mad," she replied. "There's never been anything
between Andre and me. Never , . ."
"I saw, myself . . ."
"You saw nothing. ..."
She pulled the car wildly around a bend and again the
speedometer rose towards sixty miles an hour.
Near Agay they reached a long line of cars drawn up
silently and patiently in the darkness. Eleanore sounded
her horn loudly and impatiently at the vehicles, immobile
like a cortege that has paused. After a few minutes, Eleanore
swung the car out, and flashing its lights, edged her way,
despite the angry complaints of other drivers, in a second
file towards a gendarme who was directing the traffic.
"Stop!" he said, waving his torch.
Behind him were three other gendarmes taking measure
ments in the roadway, watched by silent campers and travel
lers who had pulled their cars up. In the headlights, a corpse
drained of blood lay in the centre of a great, dark stain.
"Pass," said the gendarme, beckoning her into a narrow
lane of traffic that had begun to move.
"Please, Martin you drive," Eleanore said. "I don't feel
He changed places with her and drove with the stream of
vehicles till they had spaced themselves out, carefully,
watchfully, in the direction of Le Lavandou.
"I think it was a dead cow," Eleanore said.
"Yes," Lambert answered. "It was a dead cow."
The pale corpse in rubber shoes, which had begun the
day with hope, lay on a sandy road, naked and peered at by
holiday-makers who were hurrying to their dinner. And
all its purposes and intentions and projects, started with
expectation and love, lay sprawled in its indecent end
the passions and the resentments, the angers and the
pleasures, all the day's ambitions concluded in the dusk.
"Oh, Martin," said Eleanore, "why do we quarrel? All
the things we quarrel about are so unimportant. . . ."
"But Courcin . . ."
"I hate him."
He drove past the flowering shrubs of Roches Fleuries.
"They're like faces," said Eleanore. "Please, let's be
happy, Martin. Please!"
She put her head on his shoulder.
"I love you very much. It was a cow, wasn't it? It looked
Lambert nodded and took her hand. That was their
understanding. They both gave each other reassurance in a
"I think," said Valerie, "that there's nothing I'd like to
do more than climb a mountain in winter on skis."
"Yes/' said Lambert. They walked on without speaking.
"Would you ever lie to someone you loved?" Lambert
asked Valerie suddenly.
"Only to someone I loved," Valerie answered. "I couldn't
be bothered to lie to anyone else/'
The rocks to the summit of the hill jutted from the
scrubby grass like stepping stones, and Valerie ran ahead
while Lambert, slipping on the wet surface, came more
"I hadn't thought of that," said Lambert. He reached the
top and looked down on to the arc of the horizon, stretching
in a green-brown panorama of woods, fields, three small
lakes and a factory chimney breaking the plain.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Valerie asked. She linked her arm
loosely in his, and he watched the delight in her eyes as
they travelled over the landscape. At the top of the Leap, she
"It's getting cold," said Lambert.
"No, it isn't," said Valerie. "I'm not a bit cold."
She drew her arm from his, and smiled to him.
"It's been such a wonderful afternoon," she said.
It's been such a wonderful afternoon. Let's always be
like this. He looked down at Valerie's face; and the Abri,
the trellis of table-legs, Courcin, and the brakes in the dark
ness were like the half-forgotten story of someone else's
"Yes, it's been a wonderful afternoon," he answered.
"Would you like to go to a dance in the village tonight?"
she asked. "The local association . . ."
"Anything you like. What about your father, though?
We can't leave him."
"Oh yes he wants to stay in bed. Margaret will look after
him. He wanted me to take you out. I'm afraid it won't be
very exciting. . . ."
"That will be perfect. I couldn't bear an exciting
Lambert took her hand as they walked down the steep,
narrow path that descended from the upper rocks.
"Tell me about your plans," Lambert said.
"No/* she answered. "I'm always telling you about my
self. You never talk to me about yourself or your work.
When is Eleanore coming to England."
"I'm not sure/' said Lambert. "Not till the spring, at any
rate. She doesn't like England in autumn."
"I love England in autumn/' said Valerie. "Will you ride
with me tomorrow? I love the country in autumn. Love it,
love it, love it."
And she ran towards the red setter that bounded up as
they approached the house. She held the dog, struggling
and barking, with her arms around his thick neck, thrusting
her face away from his lapping tongue, and said, "Oh,
Fausto, Fausto, I do so love you."
THE MASTER OF ceremonies sprinkled French chalk over the
wooden floor, and kicked away a trailing ribbon while the
band, Keith Monslow and His Serenaders, resting from the
fury of their unco-ordinated samba, wiped their hands with
silk handkerchiefs and adjusted the soggy collars of their
dress shirts. During the evening, the wooden Institute had
developed a hothouse temperature as the dancers arrived in
their social times, the farm workers and their girls earliest
of all; later, the farmers; then the London commuters,
solicitors and stockbrokers; and last of all, a Member of
Parliament, Alan Glasson, deputising for the sitting Mem
ber who was ill. Glasson had made the journey reluctantly.
He stood near the door with Mrs. Royde-Carr, the chairman
of the committee, struggling with distaste at the scented and
soapy smell of the dancers at rest, and disinclined to chal
lenge the red-faced guffaws of the groups congesting the
"There are no votes in it," he said to himself, and smiled
acquiescently to Mrs. Royde-Carr, observing the vein throb
bing in her neck as she addressed him inaudibly in the din.
"Oh, lord a speech!" said Valerie, standing with Lam
bert in the shadow of a rafter near the bandstand. The
drummer caught her eye and bowed to her.
"Who is that?" Lambert asked.
"He drives our tractor and does odd jobs," said Valerie.
"He's a Pole."
Lambert glanced with hostility at the tractor-driver-
drummer who, finding himself indicated and observed, set
his pale, flat face into a curtsy from which it only rose at the
instruction of Keith Monslow who commanded a roll of
drums and a clash of cymbals to announce the visiting
Member of Parliament.
"Ladies and Gentlemen/' Mrs. Royde-Carr began. Con
fronted by the faces, some with sagging mouths which drew
her attention irresistibly, her mind became blank except
for the thought that Edward's lapels were shiny and that
Lilian Babcock was staring straight at her. She unfolded
her notes, and read her speech hastily.
"I am very sorry to tell you that our Member who had
hoped to be with us tonight is ill."
Without pausing for the "Ah!" of sympathy to finish its
exhalation, she went on, "But we have here as his deputy his
young friend and ours" (a patter of applause) "Mr. Alan
Glasson, Member of Parliament for Merchison North."
"South!" said Glasson, buttoning his jacket and unbut
toning it as he felt its constriction. He was hungry none the
less. From the layers of sandwiches at the far table, he
realised that the committee intended to give him not dinner
but refreshments. At the moment, but for the sitting Mem
ber, he might have been dining in London at the Fantasio
with the Peripatetics. He threw back his shoulders, chose a
woman of benevolent aspect in a suitable middle-distance
to receive his message and interpret his audience's mood,
and began, self-deprecatingly, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm
not really here at all."
The murmur of laughter warmed him, and drew him on.
"Where are you then?" said a belated voice from the back
of the hall. The question evoked a laugh from contiguous
sycophants, and Glasson continued:
"I am here to say a few words not a speech don't be
afraid . . ."
". . . on behalf of your own Member who is, unfor
tunately, as you have heard, ill and unable to attend him
self. . . ." (Why Hinton hadn't sent them a message and
had done with it, heaven only knew. He'd got the Whips
to appoint a deputy; and they'd chosen him. Him! Glasson!
Not a vote in the place.)
"Yet I can't help feeling that it wouldn't be inappropriate
for me to offer you a brief tour d'horizon of the political
situation. . . ."
A few farmers near the door escaped in a cold draught,
but Mrs. Royde-Carr announced sharply, "Shut that door,
please," and Glasson, swaying on his heels, relentlessly de
livered the speech on the need for incentives and higher pro
ductivity which a short-sighted Speaker had denied him the
chance of making the previous week.
Like a ship into a rising wind, Glasson forged ahead
through the sound of shuffling feet, coughing and mounting
conversation, sustained by the energy of the reporter who
was taking down his speech. At worst, he felt, it might be
good for a paragraph under "Week-End Speeches" in the
"He can't stop," said Valerie. "That's his third perora
tion. He's like a musical box that stops and you think it's
finished and then it starts all over again."
But Glasson had been diverted from his theme by the
sight of Lambert, whom he had sometimes seen, though this
eluded his memory, in the Civil Servants' "Box" at the
House of Commons during Foreign Affairs Debates. Glas
son ended his speech with his habitual formula: "The
future is ours. It belongs to our children. Let us be worthy
of our trust, so that they may one day say, 'We are worthy
of our fathers' inheritance/ " What it meant, he didn't
quite know. But it was rotund in language, noble in its
general trend, and always good for a prolonged applause.
The band began to play a waltz, and the young men
lining the wall on its right moved like infantry in loose
formation on the girls who stood or sat against the wall on
the left. The committee members at the tables waited till
the others had begun before they too joined in the dancing.
Meanwhile, under the guidance of Mrs. Royde-Carr, Glas-
son was walking cautiously round the perimeter of the floor,
occasionally pausing to shake an appointed hand.
"And this is Valerie Valerie Fergusson," said Mrs.
Royde-Carr. "So pleased you came, Valerie."
"How do you do!" said Glasson. "I always thought I
knew all the pretty girls in the neighbourhood."
That was his formula for dances and garden parties. It
was certain of success. Valerie smiled with pleasure.
Lambert, unsmiling, said to Glasson, "My name is
"Yes," said Glasson. "Thought I knew you. Met you at
the F.B.I. Dinner."
"I don't think so/' said Lambert.
"Perhaps the Coningsby Club . . ,"
"No, I'm at the Foreign Office. We must have seen each
other in the House."
Glasson wasn't interested in Civil Servants. He was al
ready stretching his hand out to the beaming, middle-aged
woman whom he had used as a range-finder for his voice and
"I heard your speech, sir," she said, rising from her seat to
take his hand and then subsiding.
"You mean you suffered it," said Glasson encouragingly.
"Oh, no/' she answered. "I listened to every word. It was
"Thank you/' said Glasson stiffly.
Lambert heard his voice fading with the music, "Thank
you. Yes. I haven't dined . . . my train . . /'
"I'm glad he's gone," said Valerie as she and Lambert
danced together. "I don't want you to think about anything
to do with the Foreign Office and work. You do dance well.
Do you dance a great deal at the Foreign Office?"
"I hardly ever go anywhere nowadays where they dance.
When I was in Paris and New York, we used to dance a
lot. . . ."
"This must be very dull for you an Institute dance "
"No, not dull. Not for a moment. And what Glasson said
was perfectly true. . . /'
"What did he say?"
"He didn't say it but he meant it."
"You know exactly. ..."
"I know, but I want you to say it."
"He meant that you're a very pretty girl. But you're not a
very good dancer. You keep kicking me sharply in the
"I'm so sorry, Martin. Shall we stop?"
"No I like it very much. Do you often come to these
"Never. Am I doing it better now?"
"I'll improve," Valerie said, "if you don't give me up as
hopeless. The trouble is I can waltz this way but not that
"In that case," said Lambert, "we'll waltz this way."
He found a space on the edge of the floor where they
turned around and around clockwise to the one-two-three,
one-two-three of the Serenaders.
"I do like dancing with you/' said Valerie. She gave him
a quick, contented glance, and added, "I'm getting giddy.
Let's try the other way."
"No, let's sit down," said Lambert. The band had begun
to play "The Blue Danube" and the dancers, sweating
freely now, had begun an abandoned gyration, colliding
and cannoning like dodge-'em cars at a fun-fair. He took
Valerie's arm, and led her to their chairs on the other side
of the hall.
A young man with thick fair hair came up to her and
said, "Good-evening, Valerie. Next dance?"
"Sorry," she said casually. "I'm engaged."
"Well the next but one."
"Oh ask me later, Edward. . . ."
The young man reddened, and withdrew awkwardly.
"Who was that?" Lambert asked. "You were very unkind
"That's Edward Whyte-Parker he's at Magdalene. Ter
ribly tiresome. He's got a thing about me."
"I thought he took it rather bravely."
"Yes . . . he's impervious. Did you mind?"
"Not a bit."
"He's very good-looking though."
Lambert didn't answer.
"Don't you think?" Valerie persisted.
"Rather bloodless," said Lambert. "With that fair hair he
"Yes, he does a bit," Valerie said, and added in excuse,
"He's an awfully good dancer."
"How long have you known him?" Lambert asked.
"Ages. About four years. We used to ride together. He's a
year older than me."
"And you have you a thing about him too?**
''Edward?" she laughed out loud. ''You are silly, Martin.
He's an absolute ... an absolute child."
Lambert looked benevolently at Whyte-Parker, who was
puffing a cigarette without inhaling, near a wooden pillar.
"He's terribly sweet, though," said Valerie. "He sent me a
Donne for Christmas. He's reading English."
"I see," said Lambert. "What's he doing here?"
"Oh, he said he'd be coming to the dance. He wrote and
said he hoped to see me."
"Are you very fond of him?"
"Oh, Martin, really I never give him a thought. Poor
Balmed by her assessment of Whyte-Parker, Lambert
smiled and asked, "Would you like a coffee, Valerie?"
"No," she answered. "I'd rather have an ice. You stay
here, and I'll fight for it at the bar."
Before he could answer, she had begun to run and then,
recollecting Femina's observation that "the Gay Girls are
the girls who take their time," stopped to smooth her blue
silk dress and walked at a deliberate pace to the bar and its
double row of customers.
Lambert leaned back in his chair and shut his eyes. The
band, the stir of conversation, the nameless faces, the heavy
atmosphere were soporific. And Valerie. His hands retained
a memory of her body, young and energetic and vital; and
somewhere in his brain was the recollection of her devoted
eyes. He tried to think of yesterday and the day before and
of the days and weeks to come, of the airport and the Press
Room, of his flat, the Memorial Service, the black ties and
armbands, of Brangwyn and Padley and Mary, of the news
papers and the general mourning. But the thought of
Valerie, her voice, the warmth of her breasts and her shoul-
ders through her silk dress, came back to him in an endless,
"Hello, old chap, having a good time?"
Lambert looked from the grey flannel trousers to the
smiling face of the man in front of him.
"I'm sorry . . ."he began.
"Barraclough," the other said. "Remember me? We were
on the Portsmouth Committee. . . ."
"Of course," said Lambert, rising. He smiled to Barra
clough, and shook hands with him. "Stupid of me! It's
just that you're about the last person I'd expect to see at
this sort of place."
He paused and added, as Barraclough stood facing him
with an air of amusement, "Good lord ... I forgot to ring
"So you did," said Barraclough. "Don't give it a thought. I
had to be in Cirencester this afternoon. I rang old Fergus-
son, and he said I'd find you here. Do you mind if I sit
Lambert saw Valerie's blue dress in the lateral queue at
the bar and said, "No. What can I do for you?"
"Sorry to disturb you at your pleasures," said Barra
clough. He brushed his moustache with his finger tips, and
went on, "I've got to be back by tomorrow."
"I see," said Lambert.
"I'm not really dressed for dancing," said Barraclough.
"Grey flannels, tweed jacket . . ."
"It doesn't matter very much here," said Lambert.
"Not really," said Barraclough. "Anyhow, I didn't come
here to dance."
Lambert waited for him to continue.
Barraclough sat himself in the chair at Lambert's side
and said, "It gets terribly fuggy in these wooden halls. . . .
Shocking about Brangwyn!"
"Very sad!'* Lambert answered.
Barraclough, circling warily in the conversation like a
boxer, came nearer. "Yes, I've been swanning around for
the last two days trying to get something out for the Prime
Minister's P.Q.," said Barraclough. "The Opposition's get
ting all hot and bothered. There are another two questions
down for Thursday."
"I'm not very much in the picture," said Lambert. "Is
there anything new?"
"Nothing much," said Barraclough, stretching his long
legs and crossing his ankles. "The whole business has got a
bit complicated. The aircrash you can never tell with
these things. And the French have pulled out of the Rome
Conference. . . ."
"When did you hear that?" Lambert asked.
"I heard it in the car on the six o'clock news. Lacache has
asked for a vote of confidence. There's a hell of a row going
on in France. Sensitive people! *Le rapport Brangwyn' and
'U 'affaire Brangwyn' you can't get away from it in Paris.
I was over there the day before yesterday and you'd al
most think . . ."
"What about Le Monde Populaire?" Lambert inter
rupted. "They're the fellows who've been plugging the
"They are indeed. They're whooping it up like mad a
stone has been dropped in the puddle and British eyes are
still blinded by the mud 'par les eclaboussures.* Nice
word 'eclaboussures' so splashy!"
"And the denials?"
"My dear fellow, have you ever known an official denial
that's caught up with a lie? Look at this yesterday morn
He produced from his pocket a folded cutting from Le
Monde Populaire, and translated aloud:
" 'The publication by Le Monde Populaire of a paper
dealing with British policy in Western Europe has produced
several official denials as to the authenticity or existence of
such a paper/ "
"That's all right," said Lambert.
"Is it?" said Barraclough. He read on: " 'We expected
these denials. Obviously in a case like this it couldn't be
otherwise. Our readers can rest assured that we've got
serieuses garanties . . / How would you translate that?"
"Proof," said Lambert. "They must have something
pretty concrete to be so sure."
" 'Serieuses garanties/ " Barraclough repeated. "It sounds
to me more like 'reliable witnesses/ You know the editors
of Le Monde Populaire?"
"I've met them. . . ."
"Rilly, Melancourt, Calopin, Delisle . . . ?"
"I know them all slightly."
"And Augier Victor Augier how well do you know
Lambert pushed his hands in his pockets to control their
"I know him pretty well. He's their very best man, you
know. Have you seen him lately?"
"That's exactly what I wanted to ask you," said Barra
"I saw him the other day," said Lambert, "at our press
conference." He was watching Barraclough's friendly, un
emotional face cautiously.
"What sort of chap was he?" Barraclough asked.
"Very straightforward accurate shrewd. How do you
"I mean he's gone. That's why I went to Paris. I called on
him at Lancaster Gate, but they told me he'd gone. I flew
over to Paris, and went to his office in the Boulevard Hauss-
mann. . . ."
"He'd left they've posted him to Rabat."
"Rabat!" Lambert repeated, and smiled. Rabat. Rabat
was remote, far from inquiry, far from Barraclough, far
from the policeman's exhumations.
"He was quick off the mark," he said.
"Yes," said Barraclough. "And the other boys of the
paper either know nothing or won't talk. Do you know
"I thought you might have. He's Augier's buddy his
'stringer.' They've shipped him off, too."
"That makes it very awkward."
"Not really," said Barraclough, looking straight at Lam
bert. "We've got a pretty good line on the whole
thing. . . ."
Lambert waited for him to continue, observing with
revulsion the thin, close-shaven face.
"Oh, yes," Barraclough went on, laughing in a private
satisfaction. "Tell me, old chap. Sparr-Gamby used to work
in your Department. Think much of him?"
"Sparr-Gamby? . . . He's in the Western Department.
Quiet, retiring man!"
"That's the one. What do you think of him?"
Barraclough waited attentively for the answer.
"I haven't any strong feelings about him," Lambert said
with a slight hesitation. "I wouldn't myself want to spend
an evening with him. But I don't want to be unfair. He's
conscientious good at his job. You know he was a Scholar
of Kings. . . ."
"Oh, yes, I know all that. . . ,"
"And I think Baggott was a bit hard on him when all that
stuff blew up about his article."
4 'Yes, I do. Sparr-Gamby wrote it before he went into the
F.O. Once in, he couldn't advertise his renunciation as
the others did"
"The others who could publish their repentance and
"I suppose there must be a lot of Sparr-Gambys. . . ."
"Bound to be . . ."
"Yes, bound to be. . . ."
"It's a natural inference. The question is whether they're
dangerous or harmless. . . ."
"Yes," said Barraclough reflecting. "Pretty good band,
this. Bit too much drums ..."
"Far too much," said Lambert.
"Shy sort of a chap, I gather," said Barraclough.
"That's why he was moved," said Lambert. "He was
pretty hopeless at parties. One of his jobs was entertaining
foreign journalists but he was much too shy."
"Not very good with girls, I'm told. . . ."
"How on earth can anyone know?" Lambert asked. "I'd
have thought . . ."
"Oh, you can tell," Barraclough said calmly. "He's very
devoted to his mother. I've met her. She lives in Bux-
ton. ... Do you know when he first met Augier?"
"I've no idea. Probably three years ago when he first
came into the Information Department."
"They were pretty close friends. . . ."
"Augier knew a lot of people," said Lambert. "He en
tertained ... his flat was always 'open house' for drinks
after six o'clock. You might see anyone there Members
of Parliament, Civil Servants, editors, businessmen, ac-
tresses. ... He must have had an enormous expense
"He had private means/' said Barraclough. "Did you
know that Augier and Sparr-Gamby were together in Stresa
two years ago at the Regina Palazzo?"
"No, I didn't know. . . ."
"Do you recognise any of the people in this photograph?"
Barraclough took a wallet from his breast-pocket and
produced a coloured photograph which he handed to
"Of course I recognise them," said Lambert. "Augier
"That's it," said Barraclough. "We found it at Lancaster
Gate. Augier and Sparr-Gamby at Isola Bella with a distant
view of Stresa across the lake. Wonderful place Lago
Maggiore! Remember the Stresa Conference? It was my first
job abroad long before the war you were still at prep
school. Wonderful! I used to stand for hours outside the
Hotel des lies Borromees waiting for the Foreign Secretaries
to come out, and looking towards the islands. Have you ever
noticed how the light seems to suspend the islands between
the sky and the lake?"
"What's that?" said Lambert with a start. "I'm sorry. I
was thinking of Augier and Sparr-Gamby. . . ."
"Curious association!" said Barraclough.
"Very curious," said Lambert. "But I don't quite see what
you're getting at. ... I knew Augier fairly well. He was
always chasing around with women. . . ."
"I'm making no suggestions," said Barraclough. "My
job is simply to report facts. And the immediate facts of
interest are that Augier and Sparr-Gamby knew each other
well that they went on holiday together that they stayed
in a most expensive hotel. . . . It's interesting. . . . Did
you know any of Sparr-Gamby's other friends?*'
Lambert thought for a moment, and said, "No. Strangely
enough I didn't. He was a very shut-in type of person."
"They often are/* said Barraclough.
"What do you mean?" Lambert asked.
"I mean that these apparent recluses often have a very
full and rich life within their isolation friends and ac
tivities and precious reveries that's why they are so vul
nerable so very vulnerable to blackmail. Have you ever
thought Sparr-Gamby might have been blackmailed?"
"No," Lambert answered curtly. "But how could I pos
sibly tell? Anyone might be blackmailed even when they
are perfectly innocent."
"Yes," said Barraclough, pulling himself up from his
lounging position. "I've been talking to Sparr-Gamby, ask
ing him about Augier. It's very hard to probe the truth.
Sometimes, when I've been asking people questions, I've
had the curious feeling almost a hallucination that I
would like to lift the top of their heads like a lid and inspect
right inside, and discover what they are really thinking. All
the rest is guesswork. You follow me, don't you?"
"Yes," said Lambert. "Asking questions is, on the whole,
a very crude way of finding out the truth."
The two men rose as Valerie arrived, carrying a cup of
coffee in one hand and an ice in the other.
"Quick, take it!" she said to Lambert. "The coffee's
slopping and the ice is melting."
"This is Valerie Fergusson Colonel Barraclough," Lam
bert said, introducing them.
"Hello!" said Barraclough. "I think we spoke on the
telephone. You had the impression that I was called Bala
"I'm frightfully sorry," said Valerie calmly. "I've been
doing the nineteenth century I'd been reading Guedalla
on the Crimean War and you were fresh in my mind."
"You mean my pseudo-homonym," said Barraclough.
"Well, Balaclava of the War Office sounded so right. Are
you staying here long?"
"Oh, no. Till tomorrow. I'm at the Crown. . . ."
Valerie looked from him to Lambert and back again, and
said, "Why don't you come and see us tomorrow? Daddy
would love to meet you. . . ."
"I may have to go to London," said Lambert.
"I'd like to meet your father again," Barraclough said.
"I believe I met him at the Sugar Conference in Havana
about five years ago. Would eleven o'clock be all right?"
"Yes," said Valerie, smiling and taking his outstretched
hand. "I know he'd be delighted to see you."
"Well, good-bye, old chap," Barraclough said to Lambert.
"And thanks for your help."
"I'm afraid I wasn't much help at all."
"Oh, yes. I wanted to fill in a bit more about Sparr-
Gamby. I didn't tell you he had dinner with Augier the
day before they published the story!"
"Well see you tomorrow."
At midnight, after the band had played "God Save the
Queen," they walked from the haloing light of the In
stitute along the frost-hardened, rutted lane that led to
the house. Valerie felt her way cautiously in the darkness,
behind Lambert who led the way.
"I'm sorry -I'm so slow," she said. "I can't see a thing. How
idiotic of me not to have brought a torch."
Lambert struck a match, but the wind blew it out almost
"Let me take your arm," he said. "I can see quite well."
He took her arm and enclosed it, through her coat, with
his fingers, and began to walk more quickly.
"Is that better?" he asked.
"Yes, it's lovely. It's like running downhill with your eyes
"Tell me, Valerie, why did you invite Barraclough to
"I don't know I thought he was a friend of yours I
thought it would please you. . . . Didn't it?"
"Not much. He's a policeman."
"I thought he was at the War Office."
"He is. He's a policeman disguised as a soldier disguised
as a civilian. ..."
"Well " she asked helplessly, "what's he got to do with
"Nothing nothing much. He's snooping around trying
to find out who gave the French the Brangwyn Re
port. . . ."
"But that is important. Isn't it important, Martin?"
"Yes it's important."
He released her arm, and she stumbled along at his side.
"Martini" she said.
"I didn't tell you how much I enjoyed myself tonight.
Thank you very much for taking me. ..."
"You sound like a very small girl after a party 'thank
you for having me.' "
"I didn't mean that at all."
She felt rebuffed and her eyes blurred with tears; she
was grateful for the night. She stopped to blow her nose, and
heard his voice ahead of her calling out, "Valerie! I've lost
He came back, groping towards her in the darkness.
"I'm here!" she answered.
He felt her sleeve, and drew her towards where he stood.
"Let me make sure I don't lose you again!" he said.
He put his arm around her waist and from there, under
her left armpit, and they walked together slowly and with
out speaking towards the light of the postern-gate, while
beneath his fingers, he felt her breast, firm and pendant in
the rhythm of their motion.
Near the entrance, he paused, and said, "I think I must
go to London tomorrow."
"How long for?" she said quickly and anxiously. "You're
so restless. You keep going away."
"I'll only be gone for the afternoon."
"You will come back?"
"Yes of course."
"Martin . . ."
"You don't really think of me as a schoolgirl, do you? Do
He took his arm from her waist and looked at her face
illuminated by the postern-light.
"No. I don't think of you as a schoolgirl. I only wish . . ."
"What do you wish?"
She fumbled with the iron knob of the gate.
He touched her lightly on the cheek without answering,
and opened the gate for her to pass.
LAMBERT HURRIED THROUGH the swing-doors of his club,
hung his hat and overcoat in the cloakroom and impatiently
entered the dining-room where every table was already
occupied by members eating in quartets or octets.
"Sorry, sir, full up!" said the waiter.
Lambert pointed to a small isolated table by the window.
"What about that?" he asked.
"Reserved!" said the waiter. "But there ought to be
something in a few minutes."
Lambert looked at his watch. "I've got to be at the
Foreign Office by three," he said.
"You'll be out long before then," said the waiter.
"All right," said Lambert. "Ill come back."
He walked from the dining-room to the gallery that
circled the club and, leaning over the balustrade, surveyed
first its Byzantine cupola and then the wall of its centre hall
surrounded by marble Corinthian columns. The swing-
doors moved with a constant thump and revolution as
members entered and left, their traffic forwarded by a
Lambert ordered a whisky and soda, and recomposed the
statement which he had prepared for Baggott.
When he had telephoned the Prime Minister's office the
sharp direction of the Private Secretary "Your proper
course, my dear fellow, is to take it up with Baggott" had
antagonised him, and almost persuaded him to abandon his
intention. But Fergusson, who stood at his side when he was
telephoning, had said, "No, Martin. Get it over and done
with. You're holding a struggling cat on your chest. Get
rid of it."
It was what he had said the evening before, when Lam
bert had told him about Brangwyn and Padley and Augier
and the report. Fergusson had listened to him in the library,
interposing from time to time a "h'm" of attention. At the
end of Lambert's description of what had happened, he
said, "It's grotesque. Why in heaven's name did you have
anything to do with it? He couldn't have ordered you
to. . . ."
"Yes, he could. But it wasn't an order. I wanted to do it."
"Why? It's hard to say. Why does one want to do any
thing? I thought it would be a good thing to do. . . ."
"It would help me to get posted away from London.
That's the whole story. It's been no good for years. You
know it or if you don't know it, you must have guessed it.
You know about Eleanore. . . ."
"Not very much. I don't ask you to tell me. . . ."
"There's nothing to tell you except that if we don't make
a fresh start somewhere away from England not in
America or France there's no hope for our marriage. ..."
"And what then?"
"I don't know. Last summer in France, she tried to com
mit suicide. ... I went into this because I believed Brang
wyn promised that when it was over he'd have me posted
abroad to the Pacific."
"That would have suited him."
"It would have suited him very well. They'd always dis-
liked Eleanore. She used to rattle very faintly in my sister's
cupboard, and in Brangwyn's. He would have been glad to
get rid of me."
"What about Padley?"
"Padley was a friend of mine. He hated the whole busi
ness from the start. But his weakness his weakness was in a
curious way a social one. Brangwyn used to smother him
with a sense of social inferiority. As a brain, Padley could
make rings around him, but if Brangwyn wanted anything
done, he had several generations of authority behind him.
And Padley had a bank clerk ^deceased!"
"Did anyone else know about this his secretary? Some
one in the Registry must know about the paper. . . ."
"No one knew about it. Not a soul. The typescript was
Brangwyn's own copy that should have gone into the Secret
Waste. He simply kept it. There's no record or minute of
the meeting. Absolutely nothing."
Fergusson rose from his arm-chair, and straightened a
photograph of his wife on a side-table.
"It means," he said, "they've left you holding the baby."
Lambert didn't answer.
"No, not a baby," Fergusson went on, "a great, nasty,
struggling, clawing cat. You'd better get rid of it, Martin.
Ring the P.M. Try and get an interview with him. Get it
off your chest! You've been looking ill."
And in his presence the next morning, Lambert had
telephoned to the Prime Minister's secretary and afterwards
to Baggott's secretary.
"Ryder!" said the voice at the other end of the telephone.
"Ryder? This is Lambert. I'd like to see Baggott for a few
minutes this afternoon. It's urgent."
Ryder went away and then came back to the telephone
and said, "He's pretty busy today. What about tomorrow
week Monday the fourth."
"I've got to see him today. Tell him it's important
Again the pause and the mutter of Ryder speaking into
the intercommunicating telephone.
"One moment," said Ryder, returning. "He'll speak to
"Yes, Lambert?" came the quick, irritable voice.
"I have to see you urgently."
"Won't it keep?"
"No. It's about the Brangwyn Report. I have some im
"Three o'clock this afternoon in my office!"
Lambert slowly replaced the receiver.
"Well?" Fergusson asked.
"Three o'clock this afternoon in his office/' said Lambert.
"You'd better get a move on," said Fergusson.
Valerie came in carrying a tray of coffee. "Don't go with
out a cup of coffee," she said.
Lambert looked at her smiling, confident face, and said
brusquely, "I think your father will have some. I've got to
"Mustn't drink it," said Fergusson. "All this . . ." in
dicating the area of his heart.
"Please have a cup," said Valerie. She knelt on the floor
by the low mahogany table, and Lambert watched the back
of her neck, her bare elbows and the movement of her
shoulders as she poured out two cups.
And now, leaning over the balustrade, observing the
movement and agitation of the hall below, he remembered
Valerie, her name recurring like a whisper in his mind as
it had recurred in accompaniment to all that he had thought
and done in the last three days.
He asked a waiter to find out about his table, finished his
whisky and ordered another.
Her name, her face, her voice came back to his mind, and
he said to himself, "It's absurd!" and rejected the thought
and still it returned with the whisper of her name; the
texture of her coat, the resilience of her breast against his
hand as they walked in the darkness; her neck bending over
the coffee-pot; and her hand, warm and devoted and adult,
in his. If it were all over, if Eleanore and he remained
separate and apart as they had been for many months, if
an end could come to their waste of years, if he could dis
lodge the accumulation of regret and responsibility, he
might start again. After he had spoken to Baggott.
Like two pains that fuse in the central nervous system,
the recollection of Eleanore at Bandol and of Barraclough,
cross-legged and probing, at the Institute dance, merged in
a single obsessive anxiety. To be rid of it all, to be whole
again with the world, no longer to have a private, secret
bass to the treble of every conversation. He had thought
that Fergusson would understand, and so he had told him.
But even Fergusson with his old, sympathetic eyes had
listened to him like a doctor when a patient tells him of his
"Get rid of it," Fergusson had said. Get rid of it. Operate.
Go and see Baggott. Poor old chap. So glad it's you and not
"What about my table?" Lambert asked the waiter.
"About another ten minutes, sir," said the waiter.
Lambert looked at the clock, and decided that he would
do without lunch.
"Get me another whisky and soda, will you?" he asked.
He felt calm and clairvoyant. After he had told Baggott
about the report, he intended to ask him for a new posting.
Baggott wasn't an unfair man. He was merely a tiresome
man, a little upstart. On principle he bullied anyone taller
than himself. If they were subordinate. They'd often quar
relled before on the Information Liaison Committee and
about the transfer of Meredew to Lyons. With Padley's
backing, Lambert had won each time. About Eleanore,
Baggott had been vindictive; his Austrian wife didn't like
her. But Padley good old Padley had stopped all that.
Lambert put down his glass and shook his head. "Mustn't
get tight/' he said to himself, and went downstairs to the
cloakroom, and washed his face in cold water.
"Right you are!" said Ryder when the telephone bell
rang and Lambert, who had already been waiting for over
twenty minutes in the Private Secretary's outer office, drew
open the green baize door and walked towards the desk
where Sir Arthur Baggott was sitting with his back to the
"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said in a friendly voice.
"I've been up to my ears in it. Do sit down!"
Lambert drew an upright chair to the side of the table,
and said, "I didn't want to bother you. I know how busy
you are. I wouldn't have done so, but it's important It's
about the report."
"The Brangwyn Report "
"The Brangwyn Report wretched business. Very bad
They both were silent, and looked down at the table in a
mourning tribute to Brangwyn and the report.
"I wonder," said Baggott, "I hope you don't mind me
mentioning this to you, Martin you've been on leave, I
understand I wonder if you've noticed that we're wearing
He tightened the knot of his black, knitted-silk tie. At the
same time, Lambert put his hand to his own grey tie, and
said, "Yes, I did notice. I've been in the country, and didn't
have time to change/'
And, having offered his apology, he suppressed a surge of
resentment against Baggott who with his customary tech
nique had obliged him to defend himself at the outset of the
"Yes, of course," said Baggott magnanimously. "Of
course. It's a spontaneous expression of respect. That's all
there is to it. Poor old Andrew and James." His eyes be
came sharp and official. "He should never have gone, you
know. It's been a long-standing tradition that the Foreign
Secretary and the Permanent Undersecretary should never
be out of the country together much less fly together. The
trouble with James is that he was a weak man. He never
realised that the first job of the Permanent Under-Secretary
on the very first day that a Foreign Secretary arrives is to
"You'd better go to the Private Secretaries' Room and ask
there. I'll tell you this, Martin. The politician's never been
born who in the long run can stand up to a determined
Civil Servant. Oh, I know that some tough Minister can
come along and throw his weight about. He'll stir up the
Department study the functional diagram say he wants
this and that. And then he'll have to go off to a dinner or a
conference or to a Cabinet meeting. And in the meantime,
the Civil Servant will be co-operating with his great ally
inertia. Inertia it's eminent among the graces."
He offered Lambert a cigarette from a pigskin cigarette-
case, and fitted one for himself into a black holder.
"You know about the Service at the Abbey on Fri
day. . . ."
"I read about it in The Times"
"Good. The P.M. will be there. You'll bring Eleanore, of
He took a deep breath of smoke, and breathed it out with
contentment through his nose and mouth and ears till he
was circled in a blue, drifting aura.
"Eleanore's in France,'* Lambert answered shortly.
"Ah, yes, Trudi told me about it. How is she?"
"She's been ill."
"Yes," said Baggott. "Yes." He had seen his barb settle
and quiver in the flesh, and was ready to change the sub
ject. "It's going to be very awkward if they move for a
Select Committee," he said.
"Select Committee?" Lambert asked.
"There's a Back-Bench motion I imagine the Chief
Whip put them up to it calling for a Committee of Inquiry
into Subversive Influences in the Civil Service."
"But that's an old story. Sir Walter Cockburne asks a
question about it every session."
"This is rather different," said Baggott. "This is the first
time that it's been established that there is specific trouble
in the Foreign Office. Previously, it was hearsay. Now . . ."
Baggott shrugged his shoulders and went on. "We can't
have the press hinting that we tolerate a coterie of homo
sexual crypto-Communists. You saw the papers this morn-
"Yes. There was nothing but the usual gossip and specula
tion about the Brangwyn Report."
"Well," said Baggott, putting the tips of his small hands
together, "we'll see. The simple fact is that someone here
here in the Foreign Office has committed an act of treason.
A Foreign Office paper has been handed over to Le Monde
Populaire. It's been published by every newspaper in
Eastern Europe. It's given the French Communist Party
let's face it the biggest boost it's had for years. For the last
three days, the Czechs and the Bulgars and God-knows-who
have been broadcasting selected extracts six or seven times
a day. We can't say to' the Prime Minister or to Parliament
or to the nation, 'We're frightfully sorry. There's been a
mistake a slip-up/ " He relished the word "slip-up" and
repeated it ironically. "Besides," he said, "it isn't very
obscure or mysterious. The War Office had warned Gorse-
Jones about it long ago. Sparr-Gamby was always a risk
odious fellow. I'd have had him out long ago."
Lambert watched him as he spoke, precise, articulate and
vindictive, every hatred treasured, delicately moving over
his doubts, but tenacious in the footholds of his certainties.
"At any rate/' said Baggott, "I'm distracting you. What
did you want to tell me? I understand you wanted to see the
"Well, I hope 111 do."
"I think so," said Lambert, and welcomed the flicker of
annoyance that passed over Baggott's face.
"I wanted to tell you the exact circumstances in which the
Brangwyn Report was handed over to Le Monde Popu-
"That is very good of you," said Baggott calmly, but the
tiny red veins on his cheekbones darkened. "Have a
"No, thanks," said Lambert. He wanted to tell Baggott
quickly how it happened, so that he could return to the
"Last Friday evening . . ." he began, and Baggott
listened with his hand over his eyes, unmoving.
"That is very interesting," said Baggott when Lambert
had finished. "Very interesting indeed. You are suggesting
that the Foreign Secretary himself in effect handed over
this highly confidential paper."
'I'm not making a suggestion/' Lambert said frigidly.
'I'm telling it to you as a fact/'
Suddenly, he felt hungry and the room seemed to darken
with Baggott retreating far away and beyond his contact.
"I see/' said Baggott. "And as a further fact, you are sug
gesting no, stating that the Foreign Secretary and the
Permanent Under-Secretary together conspired with you to
betray for that's what it is a Cabinet paper with all the
embarrassing and harmful results that have come from
"I've already explained/' said Lambert. "I had nothing
to do with the policy; Brangwyn virtually told me to mind
my own business about that. He conceived the whole thing,
and if it turned out badly that was his affair. All I wanted
to tell you was how the report leaked out. I've done that.
Is there anything else you'd like to know?"
"You're getting rather excited," said Baggott. "Are you
"I'm in excellent health," said Lambert. "What are you
"Nothing," said Baggott, raising his hand deprecatingly.
"You don't look well. You look tired overstrained."
Again he returned to perspective in Lambert's eyes.
"I wonder/' he said, "if you'd tell me a little more about
Friday night. Did anyone see you go into the Foreign Secre
"No. I thought not. And what was the name of the young
man you gave the paper to in the Tate?"
"You mean, the Royal Academy."
"Yes. I knew it was somewhere artistic. What was his
Lambert hesitated, and said, "I don't know."
"You don't know. I see. Do you remember perhaps what
he looked like?"
Again Lambert hesitated and then he said, "He was a
rather nondescript Frenchman."
"Yes," said Baggott reflectively, as if to himself. "Yes."
He rose, and walked over to Lambert's chair,
"Tell me, Martin. Why have you this terrible grudge
"Grudge?" Lambert repeated. He looked at Baggott in
bewilderment. "What grudge are you talking about?"
"Why are you uttering this frightful slander against a
dead man who can't reply?" Baggott asked in an emphatic
voice. He walked back to the other side of his desk and, still
standing, said, "I would have thought you'd have had more
consideration for Mary. Andrew's dead, and Padley may
die at any hour. And you come here with this miserable,
mean, cock-and-bull story."
Lambert looked up at him and said.
"Don't be so damned pompous, Baggott. I've told you the
truth every word of it."
"I really think you're unwell," said Baggott. He leaned
forward over the table. "For your information, Lambert, we
know know definitely that the paper was given to Le
Monde Populaire by Sparr-Gamby. He'd been feeding them
with stuff for nearly two years."
Again the light behind Baggott turned him into a
silhouette retreating from the focus of Lambert's vision.
"Look here, Baggott," he said. "What I've told you is
the truth. I know. I was there. Sparr-Gamby had nothing
to do with this don't look at me like that Good God,
He waved his arm, and knocked a calendar to the floor.
"You'd better take a grip of yourself," said Baggott.
"You're becoming hysterical." He stopped, and his eyes be
came spiteful. "You can't afford to have two members o
your family ill."
"You disgusting little. . . ." Lambert began, rising to his
feet. He stopped and looked down on Baggott, who had be
come pale and was ringing for his secretary.
"I will recommend your suspension/* said Baggott, his
mouth trembling. "I will recommend your suspension.
Ryder!" to his secretary who had entered and was looking
at him in surprise, "I am recommending Lambert's suspen
sion. Brangwyn was right. He's . . . see him out!"
The cold afternoon sun was already setting when Lam
bert, after he had drunk a cup of tea in a Lyons shop near
Whitehall, entered St. James's Park. Near the artificial
islands, the ducks huddled in the slime-green water away
from the wind that blew diagonally across the lake, scallop
ing it into small waves, and bringing in puffs the smell of
burnt leaves. The globular lamps along the Mall were
citron against the darkening sky, and all around, from the
Palace to the Colonial Office, windows had begun to glow
in time with the advancing dusk.
Lambert raised his coat collar against the wind and began
to walk towards the ornamental bridge in the brisk pro
cession of Civil Servants, bowler-hatted Guards officers,
typists and mothers with perambulators. Here and there,
along the serpentine asphalt path between the lake and the
lawns, the benches were occupied by solitary figures in a
reverie that cocooned them against the cold, and by lovers,
private and without conversation, who, unable to find any
other meeting-place, sat warmed by each other's touch,
staring at the bending reeds and absorbed in their public
Again the conditionals. If he were to resign and leave the
Service, dragging from the scene with Baggott the decision
that he had been unwilling to make on his own behalf, if he
were to tell Eleanore that now there was no purpose in re
pair and pretence, if he were to see Ledward, who had told
him, in the spring, "Come and see me if you leave the F.O.
I'm looking for a Rome correspondent" he might begin
again. He was thirty-nine, not too old to start a new career.
Everything that he had done his work, his connections, his
travel would be in the design of his new occupation. It
was a prospect of liberty. To leave the Foreign Office, to
have done with Baggott, Radcliffe, Curwen-Legge, never
again to have to account for Eleanore, and to forget Foreign
Service Regulation No. 3. He had rehearsed it in his memory
like a threatening letter in the hope, frustrated at each
recall, that within the menace there might be some imper
fection, an outlet from its encirclement.
"If a member of the Foreign Service becomes involved in
a matrimonial suit which may, in the opinion of the Secre
tary of State, bring discredit upon that member or upon the
Service, the Secretary of State may call upon him to re
sign. . . ." And so it would have been. Brangwyn and
Baggott had watched and probed and waited, examining
at intervals the festering discredit until the time when the
regulation would allow it to be lanced.
"A member of the Service who becomes involved in a
divorce suit must, therefore, notify the head of the Person
nel Department of the facts % of the case at the earliest pos
But there had been no facts to tell them. They had waited
with curiosity, and then with disappointment and, at the
end, with irritation, for him to declare his difficulties. "How
is Eleanore?" "She is well she is ill she's better she's on
holiday she'll be back soon." He had smiled and thanked
them for their kind inquiries. And they had smiled and
waited another month.
Now it was different. They weren't driving him away. It
would be an act of free-will, a decision, not a penalty but a
prize. He would liberate himself from Regulation No. 3
by renouncing the Service that imposed it. He would live
in Rome. And he remembered the hot, dry air of the Pincio
Gardens, the statues scaled with time, the smell of the pep
per trees and the white magnolias where the road rises
near the Villa Borghese. And perhaps if it were possible
perhaps it wasn't absurd it was not uncommon it wasn't
only arithmetic one was a child and an adolescent and at
last an adult and to be an adult covered a whole area of
time perhaps, 5 he thought as he crossed the ornamental
bridge with his head lowered against the wind, perhaps he
might marry Valerie.
He might marry Valerie. The thought, admitted to his
mind, grew tumescent, powerful and full of wonder, a
voluptuous, releasing paean. The nape of her neck with the
hair falling in two strands. Her gentle attention. Her quiet
presence far from Eleanore's eyes distracted by exhilaration
or despair. Valerie was eighteen. Thousands of girls married
at eighteen. In a year's time if Eleanore divorced him
they would live in Rome, and for their honeymoon, they
would go to Ischia. And they would walk over the hills
among the ginestra, far away from everything, from the
Foreign Office, from Eleanore and even from old Fergusson
who was getting boring.
There was no doubt about it. Fergusson was rather tire
some. If he had his way, he'd keep Valerie permanently in
a gym-slip. After ignoring her for years, he had now decided
to exercise his parental responsibilities. And he'd been
oversolemn last night in his advice. He was a pipe-sucker.
Lambert disliked people who spoke between pipe-sucks. He
had pipe-sucked as he pressed Lambert to explain about the
Brangwyn Report. And when Lambert came to think of it,
he might have done better to be silent. Sooner or later,
they would have known that Sparr-Gamby was blame
less. . . . No one would ever admit that Brangwyn himself
was involved in the stratagem, even though they knew it to
be true. If he had said nothing, the Brangwyn Report
would have been interred with its author, covered by the
Foreign Office with earth, and The Times would have
spoken its requiem. They'd all exaggerated.
He decided that he would make a formal statement in
writing to the Prime Minister.
After he had crossed the bridge, he turned, and with the
wind behind him, walked back in the direction of The
Horse Guards Parade. A girl passed, smiling to herself. She
was younger than Valerie, but she had the same untroubled
expression on her face, the same air of private delight, the
same indifference to season and time, and he retained her
image in his mind, quickening his pace in order that he
might the sooner leave London and be tranquil in Valerie's
The water of the lake had darkened with dusk, and the
park was emptying. Through the Mall, the traffic moved
urgently; and Lambert himself, although his hat touched
his forehead in a damp rim, wanted, in the homeward ex
hilaration, to break into a run through the sporadic walkers
with their attach^ cases and umbrellas and brief-cases as
they advanced over the sodden, leaf-strewn path.
A man in a raincoat got in his way, and Lambert took a
step to the side.
"Hello, Lambert," said a familiar voice. Barraclough was
standing in front of him, hands in pockets.
"Hello, Barraclough," he answered.
"Cold!" said Barraclough. "Have you noticed how the
ducks keep out of the wind?"
He took his pipe from his mouth and said, "Going back
to the country?"
"Look here, Barraclough," said Lambert, "are you follow
"Following you?" said Barraclough. "You saw me come
from the opposite direction."
"But you knew I was in the park."
"Yes. It's cold. Let's walk along together. They told me at
the F.O. that you'd been there and given Baggott hell.
You oughtn't to bully him. He's only a little fellow."
Lambert walked on without answering.
"I have to keep in touch," said Barraclough, half-
apologetically. "And they've got to keep in touch with me.
We tell each other everything like husbands and wives.
Poor old Jones! He's off his head, with worry about the
He removed the pipe-stem and blew through it as they
"They've made up their mind that it's Sparr-Gamby. . . .
And that if it's not Sparr-Gamby it had better be."
Lambert paused at a wooden bench, and faced Barra
clough. "You know why I went to the Foreign Office this
"I'm not sure."
"Don't lie, Barraclough, and stop being . . ."
Barraclough smiled cordially at him. "I told you I'm not
sure," he said. "Baggott told me in general terms."
"Do you believe Sparr-Gamby handed the thing over?"
"I doubt it."
"Do you believe . . . ?" Lambert hesitated.
"Well," said Barraclough, encouragingly.
"Do you believe me when I tell you that Brangwyn him-
self was responsible for the report leaking to France?'*
"I don't know. Brangwyn's dead."
Lambert began to walk again in the direction of the
island. "In that case, there's nothing more I can tell you."
"Oh, yes, there is," said Barraclough. "You see, you said to
Baggott this afternoon that you yourself had some part in
this that you yourself gave Augier the paper through his
"Well, I don't think we need go much further for the
moment." Barraclough didn't look at Lambert as he spoke.
"What's the point of bringing in all the fol-de-rols about
Brangwyn and Padley? Why shouldn't you have given
Augier the paper off your own bat?"
"Why . . . ?" Lambert hesitated again. "The trouble
with you military policemen," he said, "is that you're simple
to the point of ingenuity. Why should I have given Augier
Barraclough stopped, and began to stuff his pipe with
tobacco. "I mustn't keep you," he said. "I know you're
anxious to get back to your friend Fergusson. But you did
give Augier the report, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Lambert. "I did."
And before he could continue, Barraclough had turned
his back on him, and was walking briskly towards the
granite annexe of the War Office.
"GOING UP! WHICH floor, sir?"
"I don't know/* Lambert answered. "Sir James Pad-
ley . . ."
"Fifth floor/' the liftman answered, examining the
empty vestibule in search of more passengers. "No visitors!'*
"That's all right/' said Lambert. "I'm from the Foreign
The liftman looked at him doubtfully. "They're not
letting anyone in. ... Anyway, Matron doesn't like visi
tors after six."
"Just take me up," said Lambert.
The liftman hesitated, and then closed the door.
"Well, don't say I didn't tell you," he said, and pressed a
button. The grille moved heavily into position, and the lift
began its slow, lurching progress upwards.
"Old-fashioned, these lifts," he said. "Time they were
changed specially in the Private Wing."
The lift clicked as it passed the first floor, and Lambert
caught a glimpse of a dark hospital corridor.
"You get used to it, though," said the liftman. "After the
war the first one when I was demobbed I worked in a
nursing home in Welbeck Street. They had a lift there you
worked with a rope. Talk about pull! You had to ring it
like a church bell. Hydraulic!"
"Oh, yes," said Lambert.
"Hard on the feet/' said the liftman. "See this leg?"
"It's artificial. Funny how quick you get used to it."
The lift clanked steadily past the second floor.
"We go on automatic at seven," said the liftman.
Lambert stared at the iron trellis without answering.
"I once knew a chap at the Foreign Office," said the lift
"Which department?" Lambert asked.
"Electrical," said the liftman. "Ministry of Works really.
He looked after the fittings. Name of Stephens.
Lambert looked at the liftman's face for the first time. It
was a tired, gentle face that had accumulated a store of
sympathy, gathered in synoptic conversations from transient
companionships. They smiled to each other, and Lambert
said, "I like Bill Stephens. Very useful man."
"Doesn't get on with his wife," said the liftman. "Here
you are, sir. Fifth floor. Good-night!"
"Good-night," said Lambert, and stood for a few mo
ments outside the lift shaft waiting for a nurse from whom
he could inquire about Sir James Padley.
In front of him were the numbered doors of the private
rooms, each ticketed with the name of patient and doctor,
each with vases and bowls of flowers assembled outside as if
around an altar. Their scent mingled with a dominant smell
of antiseptic and the rubber floor.
"I say!" Lambert said to a nurse who walked gracefully
towards him, carrying an object under a napkin. Like an
indolent waitress, she ignored him, unhurried in her in
difference, and disappeared at the other end of the dark and
An indicator board flashed with the illuminated num
bers of rooms, and he walked towards it. Through a low
transom window, he could see a nurse writing at a table. He
knocked, and pushed the swing doors open.
"Yes?" she asked sharply.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, Sister/' Lambert said. "My
name is Lambert. I'm from the Foreign Office. I've come to
see Sir James Padley."
She stopped writing and stood up. She was tall with a
clear, fresh complexion, and her uniform, as she rose, rustled
in the silence.
"Good-evening," she said. "I was a bit surprised, you see."
Her voice had taken on a light cadence. "I'm Sister
Llewellyn. But I'm sorry visitors aren't allowed. Sir James
is very ill."
"I know," said Lambert. "I didn't want to see him for
very long. I'm a friend of his "
"He's very ill," she repeated. "Here is the press bulletin."
Lambert glanced at the slip of paper that she held out to
wards him, and she put it down.
" 'Sir James Padley is still unconscious' it's not very in
formative," he said. "I want to know how he is." He raised
his voice, and added, "I want to know the truth."
"Would you like to take a seat, sir?" the Sister asked. "I'll
just go out and make some inquiries."
"In a moment," said Lambert, standing between her and
the door. "What does Sir Horace Zinner say?"
He saw her face flush and become pale, and she said, "I
can't discuss patients without permission. Will you excuse
He stepped aside, and she went out hurriedly. Within a
few seconds, she returned with a thick-set man in a blue
serge suit who wore his hair smoothed in three stripes over
an otherwise almost bald head, and said, "This gentleman
says he's a friend of Sir James."
"Hello, Veale," said Lambert. The last time he had seen
Padley's detective had been at the airport.
"Hello, sir/' the other answered, smiling. "You've been
frightening Sister. She came for police protection."
"I didn't," said the nurse.
"Yes, you did," said Veale. He had a resonant, healthy
laugh that made the glass in the cabinets tinkle. "She
thought, sir, that you'd come to blow us all up."
"Well, how was I to know?" said Sister Llewellyn to
Lambert. "You looked so menacing. Would you like a cup
of tea, sir?"
"No, thanks," said Lambert. "I only wanted to find out
about Sir James."
"He's bad," said Veale, suddenly serious. "I've been on
duty twelve hours a day outside that door. . . . By the way,
there's a terrible draught down that corridor. . . ."
"You want a muff for your feet," said the nurse. "I'll lend
They both laughed uproariously.
"Go on," said Lambert to Veale.
"Well, he seems to be fading I keep looking through
the observation hatch every quarter of an hour at least
that's the order and he looks to me as if he's dying bit by
"What does Sir Horace Zinner say?"
"I don't know. It's pretty hopeless. Sister, show Mr. Lam
bert the report."
"Certainly not," said Sister Llewellyn. "I dare not. Do
you want a cup of tea?"
"What me?" said Veale, mimicking her. "I dare not."
"You're a goose/' said the Sister, and threw a pair of
pliers at him.
"Attempting to do actual bodily harm/' said Veale. "If
Mr. Lambert weren't here, I'd take you in charge."
("Stop it! Stop it! For Christ's sake, stop it!'* Lambert said
to himself. Outside the corridors were lined with pain, and
the detective and the nurse were coquetting.)
"Do you think I could look at him for a moment, Veale?"
"All right, sir," said Veale. "Let's ask the Special. Our
orders are a twenty-four hours' watch. It doesn't really
matter. . . ."
"Where is he?" Lambert interrupted impatiently.
"I'll take you along. . . . Are you feeling all right, sir?"
"I'll have a cup of tea for you, Veale," said the nurse.
"And remember, no one's to go in."
"Right you are, Sister," said Veale, and they gave each
other an affectionate leer before he followed Lambert into
"It gets quiet at night," said Veale. "Everything looks
different even the corridors."
He stood aside to let a student nurse go by, wheeling a
"It's different in the daytime when everybody's busy. But
at night it's a bit like a prison. All the doors closed
everyone in pain or lying awake in the dark or
drugged. . . ."
"You're getting morbid, Veale. . . ."
"Well, it makes you think, you know. When I've been on
night duty at about three or four in the morning that's
when it gets you. The temperature suddenly drops. . . .
They wanted me to go to Rome. Took me off at the last
minute and sent Edwards instead. . . . Poor old Edwards I
That's how it is."
"How's your family?"
"Oh, very well, sir. I don't get round to seeing much of
the kids. Not on this job."
They had reached Room 24, and Veale pointed to a
chair with a small table, lit with a desk-lamp, outside.
"My office!" he said, and he laughed loudly.
Lambert turned his head to the card on the door, "Sir
James Padley: Sir Horace Zinner," and Veale said, "He's
very bad, sir."
"Do you know what Zinner says?" Lambert asked.
Veale glanced quickly up and down the corridor, and
said, "Here take a load of this."
He drew a report-card from his inside pocket and handed
it to Lambert.
"Where did you get this?" Lambert asked.
"I snitched it," said Veale proudly, "from Sister Llew
"Thank you, Veale," he said. He walked towards the door
as if to enter the room, but Veale put out his hand firmly
and said, "Sorry, sir. I can't allow visitors. Those are strict
orders." He peered through the panel, said: "The Special
has gone off for a minute. Wait till she gets back. She might
let you look through the door."
"I only want to go in for a few moments," said Lambert.
"Not even for a few moments, sir," said Veale. "It isn't
doctor's orders. They're security orders. The only visitors
allowed are the doctors, his son not even his daughter-in-
law the nurses and the Special. . . . Here, sir. You can
take a look through the glass."
Lambert pressed his brow against the observation-panel,
straining to distinguish the shapes in the blue-lit room.
"I can't see a thing," he said.
"Shut your eyes, sir," said Veale, putting his head close to
Lambert's. "Then open them. . . . You'll see. . . ."
When Lambert opened his eyes again, he saw a screen by
the window, an arm-chair, the end of the bed, two glimmer
ing swathes on the blankets and a white cone, immobile, like
a bolster placed longitudinally. The small blue light threw
no shadow; the room was phosphorescent like the interior of
a cave. The two men stared for a few seconds, till Veale drew
away and said, "That's how it is. Never moves. Not since
they brought him in from Uxbridge."
"What does Zinner say about his chances?" Lambert
asked. "Is there any chance?"
"You never know with Zinner/' said Veale. "Young Pad-
ley asked him just that I heard him and he said, I'm not
God' and then young Padley asked him about the details,
and all Zinner did was complain about the Health Service.
You know these specialists. . . ."
"Would you like a cup of tea, now?" asked Sister Llewel
"You carry on, Veale," said Lambert. "I'll stay here till
you come back."
Veale hesitated, and the nurse said, "All right if you
don't want to!"
"Yes, I do!" said Veale hastily, and added in friendly
flippancy. "I'll leave you in charge, Mr. Lambert five
"I won't go away," said Lambert.
"There's the evening paper," said Veale, and he walked
away laughing with the nurse.
Lambert sat at the table and began to read the newspaper
from the back page, turning through the sports news and
the theatre columns and the advertisements and the petty
crime and divorces and the gossip paragraphs of "London by
Night" till he came to the editorial. The title was "Unsafe,
Unsound"; and he read it as if it referred to a foreign
country and persons whom he had never known.
"No one/' said the editorial, "wishes to introduce in
Britain methods of security which are repugnant to our
national tradition. Yet the first duty of the state is to defend
itself. The issue of the Brangwyn Report raises larger ques
tions of public confidence in the administration of the
Foreign Office and in its ability to provide essential safe
guards against the treasonable betrayal of the nation's
secrets. If we use emphatic language, it is because the situa
tion requires drastic action. The nation's mind will not be
at ease until those guilty of the treacherous delivery of the
Brangwyn Report have been identified, tried and pun
Lambert turned to the front page, and read the headline,
"BRANGWYN AIRCRASH: SABOTAGE NOT RULED OUT SAYS
MINISTER OF TRANSPORT." Beneath the report of the Minis
ter's reply to a Parliamentary question about the circum
stances of the crash was a box set in heavy black type:
"Sensational developments (says our Diplomatic Corre
spondent) are expected in the Brangwyn Case during the
next few days. High Foreign Office officials have been ques
tioned. Superintendent Raynes called at the War Office
this morning. It is understood that a member of the Foreign
Service has been suspended from his duties pending the
outcome of these investigations."
"LATE NIGHT FINAL," said the lettering at the top of the
page. Lambert read the paragraph again, and said, "It's
about me. To hell with them. ..."
"To hell with them," he said again, and pushed open the
door of Room 24, and went inside. As if not to disturb
Padley, he closed it gently behind him, and went on tip-toe
to the edge of the bed. He put his hands on the cold rail,
and waited till his eyes became accustomed to the livid light
that fell on the blankets in the colour of a fading bruise. He
followed with his gaze the mummy-like shape in the bed,
the two arms swaddled in gauze, darkened in patches, and
the head propped up in a grotesque white turban. Through
out the room hung a mild, sweet stench.
Lambert came to the side of the bed, and looked more
closely at Padley. In his pocket his hand clutched his torch,
and he took it out, and sat for a short time in the arm-chair,
with his thumb on the switch. Of Padley's face he could only
see the nose, and forehead, and the cavernous darkness of
his eyes. His eyebrows had been burnt away.
" James!" he said in a whisper. The inert body lay on the
bed like an effigy on a tomb. "James!" he said more loudly.
As he leaned forward, he saw Padley's eyes open and
glitter, and he leapt to his feet, with his torch lit and playing
over Padley's face. But the door of the kitchen on the other
side of the corridor whose light had shone through the
observation panel, closed; and the illusion that Padley's
eyes had opened was gone.
"James!" Lambert called again.
The torchlight showed his pale thin face, the yellow
stains on the bandages and the movement of his breath
under the blankets, tender and shallow as an infant's.
"James! It's Lambert Lambert " he called in an
urgent whisper as if his voice could penetrate the layers and
layers of Padley's unconsciousness to the mysterious ab
stracted world where he was breathing. "Wake up, James,"
he said. "Wake up and tell them."
Brangwyn and Padley. The dead and the dying. To hell
with them. To hell with them all.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" a woman's
voice asked angrily.
4 'Who are you?" Lambert asked the nurse who was taking
off her cape.
"I'm the Special. You shouldn't be here."
"No," said Lambert. "There's no point in it."
He went to the Sisters' Room where Veale, now drinking
his third cup of tea, was explaining to four admiring nurses
the mechanism of his revolver.
"You'd better get back, Veale," he said. "There's a strange
woman in Number twenty-four."
Veale hurriedly drank his tea, and said, "Thanks, that'll
be Grimethorpe. Good-night all."
"Good-night and don't shoot yourself," said a dark
young nurse. Delighted with the amiability, Veale left,
laughing, followed by a farewell stream of giggles.
FAR BELOW, BOOMING in the funnel of the lift-shaft, a door
slammed, and Lambert waited, hat in hand, for the lift
to ascend. It rose like a diving-bell from the sea, its dome
slit at the side with the light that filtered through the
ventilator. It stopped and Lambert waited for the grille to
open. But he saw that the empty lift had come up auto
matically, and he opened first the outer gate and then
pushed back the inner, resistant grating.
The time was a quarter past eight, and he estimated that
if he spent no more than half an hour at some restaurant on
the way to Felling, he could arrive long before midnight.
For the first time since the morning, he felt hungry, and
as he pressed the button opposite the bronze sign "Ground
Floor," he decided that he would eat after all at the White
Tower in Charlotte Street only a few hundred yards away.
The lift released itself with a faint hesitation and began to
trundle downwards towards the fourth floor, and Lambert
remembered Padley, lying as if in the cerements of one
already dead, and the antiseptic smell, and the corpses in
the Italian sun on Route Five during the war. At that mo
ment, the lift stopped, and Lambert pulled the brass handle
to open the door. He then saw that opposite the gate was
not the hospital corridor but the brickwork wall of the
"Christ!" he said aloud.
He pressed the ground floor button, and the lift began to
move downwards again. Lambert's heart accelerated its
beat, and he wiped his hands on the side of his coat. The lift
reached the fourth floor, and Lambert drew a deep breath as
he saw the corridors and felt the lift, nonchalant and un
hurried, sinking past the thick concrete marked "Four" in
A second later, the lift stopped again. Looking up, Lam
bert saw that it overtopped the floor by about six inches, but
opposite him was the wall. He pressed the button hard, and
waited as if for an answer to a doorbell. Nothing happened.
He put his hat on the porter's stool, and pressed the button
again. Still nothing. He kept his eyes on the few inches
above the floor, and pressed the red "Alarm Bell." He
listened for its ring, but there was no sound.
"Hello!" he called out. "Anyone there?"
There was no reply. He shouted again; and this time, he
heard muffled voices rising up the lift-shaft, followed by a
woman's voice from above, "Are you all right?"
He looked up, and saw the mouth and nose of someone
who was lying on the floor above in order to be able to speak
"Yes," he said. "I'm all right. Do you know what's
"Nothing much," said the nurse. "Something gone wrong
with the lift. Soon have you down. How do you feel?"
"I feel ridiculous," said Lambert. "Like a monkey in a
cage. How long are they going to be?"
"Could you throw me a cigarette?"
The nurse went away, and returned with three cigarettes
that she flicked through the grille. Two fell on the floor, but
one fell down the shaft.
"What's it like there?" the nurse asked.
"It's getting rather warm/' Lambert answered. "How
long are they going to be?"
"Not long," said the nurse. "The electricians are working
on it already."
Lambert took his coat off and put it on the floor. Above
him, he could see a growing assembly of feet the feet of
two women, three pairs of men's black shoes, and a pair of
boots. He gave a savage pull at the handle of the gate and
started rattling the grille.
"Don't do that, mate," a man called down to him. "You'll
only get yourself tired. If you get through the gate, you've
still got the wall. Easy does it. Well have you out soon."
"Sorry," said Lambert. "Any idea how long it'll be?"
"Not long, chum. Got enough air?"
"No. It's getting damned hot."
"Well, get your head down by the bottom of the gate if it
gets too hot."
The nurse came back, and said, "Hello, we're bringing
She swung a bar of chocolate through the trellis, and
Lambert caught it.
"Won't be long," she said. "How would you like a cross
word? I'll send you one down in the next post."
"Bless you!" said Lambert, and he felt a cold stream of
sweat trickle along his spine towards his kidneys. He smiled
to the nurse, and when she went away, began to read the
notice on the wall. "The Company accepts no responsi
bility. . . ." Repeat, "The Company accepts no responsi
bility." Repeat, "The Foreign Office accepts no re
sponsibility." Repeat, "Brangwyn accepts no responsibility."
Repeat, "Padley accepts no responsibility." Repeat, "No
one accepts responsibility." No one accepts responsibility.
No one except Lambert.
"You all right, chum?" the electrician's voice replaced
"I'm all right perfectly all right. For God's sake get this
damned thing started."
From the basement someone shouted instructions to a
mechanic who answered from the dome of the lift. Lambert
could hear the drumming of feet and the sharper sound of
tools above his head.
"Have a go now, Charlie," the voice called. Lambert saw
a new pair of boots land on the floor.
"Try it, brother," said the workman who had been talk
ing to Lambert. "Press the third floor button."
Lambert stood and pressed the button. As he released it,
the lift gave a shudder and began to descend. After it had
sunk about eighteen inches, it stopped again, opposite the
brickwork. Lambert pressed the third floor button again,
then the ground floor button, and then splayed his hands
over all the buttons. The lift was immobile.
Beyond the cage, the wall. Beyond the wall, a cage. And
another, and another. Lambert tugged again at the handle
till his hand became a red matrix of its design.
"Oh, God," he said, and stretched himself on the floor.
The lift, unventilated by motion, was stiflingly hot, and
seemed suddenly to have become lagged with a felting that
denatured the sounds from above and below. The voices
reached him without consonants, a ventriloquial mumble
that struggled up from the interior of the shaft without
"Hello!" Lambert shouted, clutching the trellis of the
gate. A few inches away, the brickwork rejected his voice
like the mouthpiece of a telephone gone dead.
Lambert put out his hand and touched the wall. The air
had condensed against it, leaving a surface of sweat.
"Hello!" he shouted at the top of his voice. A jangle of
vowels, the struggle of a dumb man, rose in answer. Lam
bert walked around the narrow lift, and climbed on the
stool, trying to look through the ventilating slits. He could
see nothing except the wafery fungus on the wall.
"I'll count/' he said aloud. The exhaustion in his knees
mingled with the beginning of panic.
"By the time I reach a thousand . . ."
Facing the brick wall, he sat himself on his overcoat,
wiped his neck and face with his handkerchief, and began
to count. When he reached fifty-seven he rose to his feet and
began to shout again and rattle the gate.
He wanted to smoke, but he couldn't find a match. And
then he wanted a drink. The thought became pervasive and
desperate, and with it, the recollection of the cold air of the
streets, the wind in the park, the open hill at Felling. One
of his hands began to bleed from the sharp edge of the
grille, and the trickle of blood was a distraction. He tied
his wet handkerchief around it and returned to his coat,
and sat with his hands over his mouth.
"Quiet!" he said.
At Reggio, during the war, he waited for three days, in
the camp for transient officers, a two-floored barn, to get an
aeroplane from the airstrip. He had a bed on the second
floor. During the third night, there was a heavy air attack
and he woke to a clatter of gunfire and the stumbling of the
other officers making for cover. But in the bed next to his
was an American Colonel, a Ranger, arrogant and aggres
sive, who earlier in the day had antagonised the mess with
his truculent bonhomie. He lay without moving, and Lam
bert watched him in the leaping and fading flames from a
burning farm house. As he watched, he saw the Colonel
open one eye and look at him and close it again. And while
the barn shook and creaked at the thud of bombs, Lambert
and the Colonel lay and observed each other to see who
would run first.
When the guns burst into a new rattle, lighting the room,
Lambert saw the Colonel's face glistening and he was
pleased. But after a time the aeroplanes murmured away
in the distance and the guns became silent.
The Colonel opened one eye and said, "You've got to
sweat it out!"
"Yes," said Lambert, and fell into a contented sleep.
In the lift, Lambert dozed for a few moments.
"You've got to sweat it out," said the Colonel, in his
dream. They were sitting in a low, closed cylinder. And
Lambert saw that the Colonel was Barraclough. "The door
won't pull," he said. "You've got to sweat it out. See my leg.
Lambert woke, gasping for breath. Facing him was the
iron gate, and the brick wall.
He closed his eyes again, and suddenly the lift began to
move downwards in little jolts. Lambert rose to his feet, and
wiped his face. The third floor was coming into sight. He
could see the caps of the nurses and the faces of three men
"Don't stop . . . don't stop," he said to the lift. It jerked
downwards, inch by inch, till it reached the third floor.
"All right, Charlie," said the liftman. "That'll do it."
He put his hand through the gate and unhinged its catch.
Lambert straightened his tie, picked up his coat, and walked
out into the corridor.
"Are you O.K., sir?" asked the liftman. "Didn't think I'd
be seeing you so soon. They brought me back. . . ."
"Would you come for a cup of tea?" a nurse asked.
"No, thank you," said Lambert.
"You're soaking wet," said the liftman. "And your hand's
"It's nothing," said Lambert. "How long was I in the lift?
I broke my watch."
"About a quarter of an hour," the nurse answered.
"I was once caught in a lift," said the liftman. "Took
them three hours to get us out."
"What did you do?" Lambert asked.
"I had a shut-eye," said the liftman. "Three hours' lovely
sleep with pay."
"Are you sure you don't want a cup of tea?" asked the
nurse, looking at Lambert's white face.
"All right by-bye."
Lambert ran down the steps alongside the lift-shaft and
into the street. When he reached his car, he lowered all the
windows so that the air could dash itself against his face as
he drove, steadily accelerating towards the by-pass.
For twenty minutes he drove in the even flow of cars and
lorries from London, thinking of Valerie, till on the curve
of a hill, he saw stretched out in front of him the orange and
green lights of the airport, the B.E.A. signs flashing like the
illuminations of a fun-fair. He drew up at the side of the
road and listened to the rumbling of an aircraft warming up
in the darkness. Above he could hear the calm, assured
sound of another aeroplane coming in to land from the
clear, starlit sky. No mark of wreckage; no memory of
disaster. Traffic is normal. Twelve flights to Paris; six to
Rome; two to Athens; two a week to Nicosia.
Everything was normal. They would arrive at night, and
fly to Rome. It would be the first time she had flown and he
would make all the arrangements. Among unknown people
they would look down in the darkness on cities and rivers,
clusters and avenues of mysterious lights, their hands and
arms linked, and they would descend in a far-off place, away
from melancholy hospitals and Baggott and Fergusson and
the evening papers and the Establishment Officer and
It was three minutes past nine and he switched on his
wireless-set and heard the announcer say, ". . . 'a major
defeat for the cause of the West and will give heart to its
enemies/ The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that
the cancellation of the Rome Conference was a direct re
sult of the publication of the Brangwyn Report, and would
set back the cause of Western co-operation by five years. It is
understood that the Prime Minister is personally . . ."
Lambert switched off the wireless, but the diminished
words "taking an . . /' lingered. He turned the car around
and drove back to London. His mind was made up. He
would never go back to the Foreign Office.
He would collect a few shirts and another suit, and then
return to Felling and wait.
"Mrs. Coles!" he called out when he entered his flat, and
remembered that it was her night out. On the floor of his
bedroom were two envelopes. He bent and picked them up,
and noted that Mrs. Coles was getting old and lazy. Next to
his bed a novel by Pellegrino that he had been reading was
turned downwards with its spine forming a longitudinal
ridge above its riffled pages. "I meant to tell her/' he said
to himself, and went into the drawing-room to get a drink
from the cabinet.
His bureau drawers were half open, and a crystal vase
lay unbroken on the floor, together with a report on the
Information Services in Germany. Lambert took out his
key to unlock the desk of his bureau, but then he saw that
it was already gaping where the splintered woodwork of
the top lock had been hacked with a chisel. The contents of
the small side-drawers letters, invitations, rubbers, pen
cils, visiting-cards and dust lay piled in an indecent mass
on his writing-pad. Lambert flicked the heap with his
fingers, and opened the top left-hand drawer. All his diaries
had gone. He pulled out the second drawer where he kept
his dress studs and links and a cigarette-case that the Mar-
lows had given him in New York. They were all there,
boxed and secure. Lambert looked in the bottom drawer
where he kept his passport and personal papers: they were
still neatly stacked and undisturbed, but an album of photo
graphs which he had taken in America had disappeared.
He poured himself a glass of whisky and was about to
light a cigarette when the curtain stirred and he jumped to
his feet and dashed it aside. The window, slightly ajar, was
as he had left it days ago. He walked into the dining-room
and stirred with his foot a wastepaper basket that had been
upturned and its contents combed and scattered.
In the drawing-room he telephoned the porter. "Did any
body want me?" he asked. "Any messages?"
"No, sir," said the porter. "Nobody except now."
"I don't understand you. . . ."
"Well. Your two friends. Mrs. Coles let them in about an
hour ago before she went out. They asked if you were in,
and they said they'd wait. The two who just went . . ."
"I see. Thank you very much."
Lambert began to pick up the letters and papers and to
close the drawers. His address-book had fallen near his desk
and lay open at the letter "C." Cartwright. Peter Cart-
wright. He was at the Treasury now, and although they
didn't see each other often, they had been close friends
during the war. They had even shared a room at the Albergo
Reale in Pisa for six weeks. Peter Cartwright. The name
was like a familiar landmark in a miasma. He dialled his
"Hello, Peter/' he said. "This is Martin Martin
"Hello, Martin," said Cartwright, relaxed, unhurried,
his voice plummy and gagged. "How are you?"
"I'm fine. Have you eaten yet?"
"Good lord, yes. It's nearly ten. What strange habits . . ."
"Are you doing anything?"
"Frankly yes. I'm . . . Well, never mind about that.
Tell me, Martin I hear you've been tangling with
Baggott. . . ."
"How do you know?"
"How do I know? Everyone knows. It's all over London.
The place is humming. You've become a classic reference."
"What about a drink later on?"
"I can 't I'm tied up. ... What's all this about you
being suspended, Martin?"
"It's quite true."
"My word, what's the F.O. coming to. . . ."
"Shall we have dinner next week at the Allegretto?"
"Hold on, Martin. I'll look at my diary."
Lambert heard the pages turning.
"No next week's no good," said Cartwright. "Absolutely
"What about lunch?"
Cartwright's voice became precise. "Never lunch out
nowadays the Budget's only six months away."
"And dinner the week after. . . ?"
He heard Cartwright's uneasy cough. "I'll give you a
ring, Martin. How would that be?"
"That would be excellent. Right ho, Peter."
Lambert gathered up a letter that had slid into the fire
place. It was an angry, protesting letter that Eleanore had
sent him a year ago. He was about to tear it in two, but
instead threw it into the disorder of the other papers on the
"THE FOREIGN OFFICE," said Fergusson, taking the platter
of cheese from Valerie's hand and scooping out a portion
of Stilton, "has always been torn between the Gothic and
the Venetian. There was a most awful row about the design
of the Office in 1860. The Goths wanted the pinnacled
gloom of neo-Pugin, and the Venetians protested that the
Middle Ages was a time of superstition and immorality.
Lord Palmerston was a Venetian. He told Sir Gilbert Scott
that what he wanted was a palace, not a monastery."
He sipped a glass of port through his cheese, and went on,
"Fortunately, the Venetians won. The original Gothic
facade was sent to some railway hotel at St. Pancras, I
believe where it still dispirits the parting traveller. . . ."
"Palladio ..." Valerie began.
"Mind you," said Fergusson, "the Venetians flattered
themselves and our climate. No sane person would com
pare the Foreign Office with San Giorgio Maggiore or the
Capucine Church or the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.
But still it's got the windows the arch on the entabla
tures the pilasters at the sides. All it lacks is sunlight and
space. Space it's the Northern substitute for sunlight.
Inigo Jones knew that . . ."
He reflected for a few moments, and Valerie watched him
'I'm against the sad life," said Fergusson. "I'm for the
Renaissance and the Mediterranean and the Italian Adri
atic. There's no other West. The East begins on the Rhine.
Mark you, Valerie, it needn't have done. The Germans
were all right as long as they lived in principalities and stuck
to chamber music and charades. They were ruined by
Valerie knew the progress from that exordium, and com
posed herself to think of other matters.
"You see," said Fergusson. "They were getting along very
nicely with Goethe and Schiller and Lessing when along
came this fellow Hegel and said that whatever's real is
rational and whatever's rational is real that liberty is
order and order is liberty and that once you interconnect
the parts of society, you've established the means to all
good the State. . . . The next step was to say that the
German State was the manifestation of the world-spirit
and if the world-spirit said it was all right, well it was.
Hegel is the original anti-liberal, the father of all totali
Fergusson's face became red and angry.
"I'm glad to say that when our Reform Bill was passed
it made him ill. What did Barraclough have to say to you?"
The familiar name impinged on her thought of Lambert
driving his car through the darkness, and she raised her head
"Colonel Barraclough," she said, "is a silly little man. He
sat in the study talking about Oxford and French literature.
. . . And every now and again asking me questions about
Martin. So stupid! He tried to slip them in as a sort of after
thought as if I wouldn't notice."
"What sort of questions?" Fergusson asked.
"Oh how long had I known Martin which of his
friends I knew whether he often came to see us did I
know Eleanore had Martin ever mentioned his domestic
problems. I simply couldn't bear him. Besides, he's got hair
in his ears."
Fergusson began to rise, and Valerie rose simultaneously.
"There was one other thing he wanted to know/' she
"What was that?"
"Something quite extraordinary . . ."
"He asked me whether I knew if Martin had ever
borrowed money from you."
"What did you say?"
"I said I had no idea. I haven't. Has Martin ever bor
rowed money from you?"
Fergusson crumpled his napkin on the table, and said,
"As a matter of fact yes, he has. Last year. He repaid it."
"Don't look shocked. . . ."
"I'm not not a bit."
"He needed money suddenly to pay for his wife's illness
and her debts. He was in great difficulties, and I was glad
to help him."
Valerie went up to him, and linked her arm in his.
"You're awfully kind, Daddy. Really you are."
"You're quite wrong, Valerie," Fergusson answered, walk
ing with her across the hall to his study. "Behind my
amiable exterior . . ."
"It isn't amiable, it's grumpy . . ."
"Well, at any rate behind my exterior, there's a reso
lute, hard-headed thinker."
"That means you're going to suggest something un
"Not really. . . . How would you like it if we moved
Her eyes became bright with pleasure. At the word
"London," she saw herself entering the foyer at Covent
Garden with Lambert, and then taking their seats in the
sixth row of the stalls, accompanied by trills of flutes and
discords of strings, the rattle of music-stands and the oceanic
stir of the great auditorium. He would help her off with
her coat and the lights would go out, those in the boxes
last of all, leaving a hemisphere of silhouettes against the red
"It would be wonderful," she said. "Absolutely wonder
ful Are you really serious?" she asked him.
"Incipiently serious," he answered. "I thought at one
time that it would be pleasant for us to be alone together in
"It is," she said quickly. "I love being with you."
"Yes, I know I know. But it's dull It's deadly dull. I
shouldn't have kept you at home this year. That was selfish
of me. . . ."
"Oh, no, it wasn't. I wanted to stay."
"I should have sent you to France on some University
course or to a pension for girls."
"If you'd sent me to a pension for girls, I'd have died. I
do wish you wouldn't worry about me. I'm perfectly happy.
When would we move to London?"
"Not for a long time," said Fergusson, stretching himself
in his arm-chair. "I'd have to find somewhere to live and
then sell Felling and get a housekeeper. Moving when
you're over sixty is a major act of surgery!" He frowned and
added, "I hope you're not going to become impatient,
Valerie. I must think it out rather more clearly. What else
did Barraclough say?"
Valerie brought him a tray with a syphon of soda and a
decanter of whisky.
"Oh, I don't know," she answered. The unfolding film
of her evening at the ballet had stopped in a sudden black
ness. "He asked me if I was interested in politics."
"Oh? And what did you tell him?"
"I told him I was passionately keen on politics. And he
said, ' Young Liberal?' and I said, 'No Kropotkin-
Fergusson smiled, finished his whisky, and said, "I'm
going to bed. Don't stay up too late."
"Daddy," said Valerie.
She jabbed at a smouldering log with a pair of tongs.
"Is Martin in some kind of trouble?"
"Why do you ask?"
She went and sat in front of him with her hands clasped
over her knees.
"I want to know there's something wrong anyone can
tell that. All this to-ing and fro-ing, and Barraclough prob
ing and questioning. ... He was over half an hour with
"I was beginning to fear I'd have to ask him to
lunch. . . ."
"I wish you had. I would have given him a pork sausage
rechauffe with corked claret. Odious man! Why did
he ... ?"
"He's not interested in us, Valerie. He's after Martin."
"But why? What's he done?"
Fergusson didn't answer.
"What has he done?" Valerie repeated.
"Quite frankly, Valerie," Fergusson answered, "I don't
know. All that I can tell you is that he's in trouble fright
ful trouble. And Eleanore's an added complication. If it
hadn' t been for her I"
Fergusson shrugged his shoulders. "She's anchored him
when he should have been on the high seas, and driven him
into storms when he should have been in harbour. If you can
imagine an ideal wife for a diplomat and then think of the
opposite . . ."
And Valerie thought to herself that love is like having
a tooth drilled, but the opposite.
"But what has she done in particular?" she asked. "What
sort of things? Do please tell me. I'm so anxious to under
"Well, it's a sordid story. You can't know, Valerie, how
degrading it is for a man or for a woman, I suppose, for
that matter to have to smile and pretend it's nothing when
their spouses are making public exhibitions of them
selves. . . ."
"But why can't he do something about it?"
"It's no good. You're caught both ways. A man with a
wife like Eleanore if he protests, she'll always get the
better of a scene. If he's silent, he's taken for a complaisant
husband. And in the end, that's what he becomes. He
acquiesces for the sake of not peace, he never gets that
appeasement. That's it appeasement. And all he gets is a
pair of horns."
"Oh, Daddy, how beastly!"
She looked at her father with distaste.
"I'm sorry, Valerie. But those are the facts. There's no
such thing as a dignified cocu. Lambert should have kicked
her out the first time with that American. . . ."
"Don't tell me. I don't want to know."
"I'm not going to tell you anything. You asked me."
"I know. I wanted to hear all about Martin. But I
can't bear to think of him being connected with anything
"Well, there it is. We all can imagine ideally how we'd
like to live our lives. Heaven knows I did thirty years ago.
I had it all planned out the men and women I liked, the
wife I wanted, the place where I'd live, the job I'd do and
all the books I'd read. And instead, I married three times,
and never I'm sorry to tell you this Valerie never hap
pily. I Ve moved during my career in a society of expatriates,
refugees and remittance-men. The only job I passionately
wanted, I didn't get. And if you look in that case, you'll see
that the books on the second shelf are all uncut."
"Martin . . ."
"When you're twenty, you know how you're going to
master life. And then, all of a sudden . . ." Fergusson
traced the intrusion in the air with his finger. "It's not you
who are in control. It's you who are being pushed around
. . . lashed by invisible spirits.' "
Valerie looked at her father, and he smiled back.
"Goethe," he said in explanation. " 'Lashed by invisible
spirits, all we can do is steer the chariot, now right, now left,
from the abysses that gape before us' !"
"I don't like that a bit," she said. "I want to feel that . . ."
"I know, Valerie," said Fergusson. "You are perfectly
right. Take no notice of my senile despondency. All this
grew out of my thoughts on Martin."
"Poor Martin!" said Valerie.
"Don't be too sorry for him," her father said abruptly.
"Why not? Because . . . well, we all create our troubles
in our own particular way. And Martin has chosen his
particular form of trouble for himself. He should have
finished with Eleanore years ago. ... I would prefer it,
Valerie, if you didn't discuss Martin's problems with any
one and particularly not with him."
"Why?" she asked defensively.
"I don't want you to. ... It's not suitable. ... I don't
want you to. . . . He's had his youth."
He left the room without bidding her "Good-night."
When her father had closed the door, Valerie, settling her
self in the arm-chair in front of the fire, began to read at
hazard in the Anthologie des Poetes Frangais du XlXeme
Siecle which Lambert had given her the day after his ar
rival. The first line that attracted her attention was:
"J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille ans. . . /'
She read it aloud, and relished its regrets.
The words were in tune with her mood and she repeated
them. But when she began to make her memories more
precise, all that she could recall was the dreariness of school
and examinations and Miss Fretts and the uncertainties of
holidays, disappointments at gymkhanas, the grief when
her mother died and the day Lambert walked with her in
the walled garden. Her recollections were few, and even
those farthest away seemed close and recent and partic
Having failed in the process of identification, she put the
book down and took from the salver on the occasional table
a letter, with an Italian stamp, addressed to Lambert. The
airmail envelope crinkled in her hand, and she turned it
over with pleasure. It was fitting, somehow, that Martin's
letter should come from abroad, and be addressed to
Inghilterra. "Inghilterra," made England, too, seem a
mysterious, romantic place, and she wondered if, seen from
Italy, England might be for some people a place of longing
and aspiration. Manchester, Swansea, Cirencester, Birming
ham, Felling. It wouldn't do. Genoa, Palermo, Viareggio,
Perugia. Those were poems. Like St. Blaise. Like the Zuecca.
"A Saint-Blaise, a la Zuecca
Vous etiez, vous etiez bien aise,
A Saint-Blaise, a la Zuecca
Nous etions bien la . . ."
She didn't know where the Zuecca was, but she as
sociated it with Musset and Lambert.
"Mais de vous en souvenir
Prendrez-vous la peine?
Mais de vous en souvenir
Et d'y revenir . . .
Dans les pres fleuris cueillir la verveine?
A Saint-Blaise, a la Zuecca,
Vivre et mourir la!"
And the thought o the flowering meadows on the Zuecca
mingled with her yearning to see Lambert again; and she
closed her anthology, listening for the sound of the car as it
climbed the hill in second gear, and the click of the first
"Anything else, miss?" said Margaret, closing the window
"No, nothing at all," said Valerie. "Good-night, Mar
"You staying up?" Margaret persisted.
"I'm waiting for Mr. Lambert," Valerie answered.
'Til wait up if you like, miss," said Margaret.
"No thank you, that's quite all right."
The telephone had begun to ring in an insistent, agitated
peal Valerie jumped to her feet, but Margaret anticipated
her and lifted the receiver.
"Yes," she said. "That's right!"
"Who is it?" Valerie asked at her elbow.
"That's right!" said Margaret into the telephone.
"Who is it?" Valerie asked at her elbow. "Is it Mr.
Margaret, frowning, shook her head and put her hand
over the mouthpiece.
"It isn't Mr. Lambert/' she said, hissing, "it's someone
Valerie took the telephone from her hand, and said
crisply, "This is Felling 420 whom- do you want?"
The line crackled, and a voice with a foreign intonation
asked, "Can Mr. Lambert take a call from Rome?"
"Rome!" she echoed.
"Hello!" the voice repeated. "Is Mr. Lambert available
to take a call from Rome?"
And then the voice faded and spoke in Italian before it
returned and said, "Is Mr. Lambert available. . . ?"
"No," said Valerie. "I'm fearfully sorry. Mr. Lambert
isn't here. . . . Can I take a message?" She turned to Mar
garet and said, "Don't bother to wait, Margaret."
Margaret left the room, talking to herself.
"One moment please," said the voice. "Rome. Rome.
Hello, Rome. Don't go away Felling. . . . Hello,
Rome . . ."
"Hello," said Valerie. She sat on the table and waited,
with her heart thumping, for the reply. She had never
spoken on a continental trunk call before.
"Hello, Felling," the voice said. "Here it is!"
A woman's voice, calm and low-pitched and English
"Is that Felling 420?"
"Yes," said Valerie. "Who's speaking?"
"This is Eleanore Lambert."
Valerie smoothed her hair from her face, and said, "Good-
evening, this is Valerie Fergusson. Can I help you?"
"I wanted to talk to my husband."
"He isn't here, I'm afraid," Valerie answered. Across the
telephone wire, from hundreds of miles away, the mo
mentary stop in Eleanore's breathing, followed by the
quickening in her voice, gave Valerie a sense of victory. She
slid from the table into the arm-chair, at ease now and ready
to prolong the conversation. She hated Eleanore's cold,
insolent voice, pursuing her husband across Europe, search
ing him out in possessive self-assurance into the very room
where he had found refuge.
"Could you tell me when he'll be available?'' Eleanore's
voice was controlled and patient.
"I'm afraid I couldn't tell you," Valerie said calmly. "He
left this morning . . ."
". . . and he didn't say when he was coming back."
There was a pause, and Valerie listened to Eleanore's
breathing at the other end of the line. She had the feeling
that if Eleanore were to put the instrument to her breast
like a stethoscope, she would hear a quaver. Eleanore spoke
more slowly: "Has he gone back to London?"
"I really . . ." Valerie began, and the telephone went
dead. "Hello!" she called. "Hello!" and getting no answer,
replaced the receiver.
"Here, Fausto!" she said to the setter, stretched, somno
lent in front of the fire. The dog rose obediently, shook it
self, and sauntered towards her with an idle stirring of its
"How strange!" Valerie said to herself. "How very
She fondled the dog's ears, and visualised the face, famil
iar from the Taller photograph, that had so often eyed her
when she had looked at Martin's picture in her drawer. She
imagined her, chill in her anger, frustrated by her failure
to reach Martin, indignant at the interruption in her call,
flicking the receiver and rebuking the operator. A few
seconds later the telephone rang again and Valerie watched
the inert ivory-coloured instrument as the bell rang and
echoed and rang and echoed. If it rang ten times, she would
pick it up. Seven pause eight pause nine pause
ten pause eleven . . . She raised the receiver and said,
"Hold on, please. . . . You were cut off/ 7 said the
operator's voice, distant, ebbing and strengthening. "You're
"Hello ... we were cut off," Eleanore's voice had be
come thick. "Are you there?" she added anxiously.
"Yes, I'm here," said Valerie. Fausto had climbed onto
her lap, spreading himself grandly in sleep, and she rested
the telephone on his spine.
"Could you tell me when Mr, Lambert will be back?"
Eleanore asked. Her voice was imperative, and Valerie
"I'm sorry, I've no idea. Not for a few months I
There was a pause.
"Has he gone to London?"
"I couldn't say."
"Is your father at home?"
"May I speak to him?"
"I'm sorry he's gone to bed. He never speaks on the
telephone after ten. . . . Have you tried Mr. Lambert's
Eleanore didn't answer, and Valerie waited for her to
"If Mr. Lambert rings," she said at last, " oh, never
"Is there any message?"
"No. Nothing." Her voice faded. "Thank you very much.
... I hope I haven't disturbed your father."
"Oh, no," said Valerie. "He sleeps like a log."
She heard the receiver in Rome fall gently onto its
pedestal, and simultaneously she pushed Fausto onto the
floor. Then she took the letter from the salver, switched
off all the lights except those in the hall and at the postern-
gate, unlatched the entrance-door, and ran at top speed
up the stairs to her room. As soon as she got inside, she
turned on the lamp, bolted the door and flung herself face
downwards on the bed, clutching the crumpled letter be
neath her. Again the poignant surge of pleasure and she
squeezed her eyes tightly in the enclosing night of her
pillow. "Could you tell me when Mr, Lambert will be
back?" "I'm sorry, I've no idea." She could hear Eleanore's
voice, and repeated the answer. It wasn't a lie; it was a half-
lie a half-lie to protect Martin. "Could you tell me when
Mr. Lambert will be back?" "Not for a few months." That
was a lie. Not for months, not for years, not for ages. Never
for you. It would have been better if he'd left her years
ago. Her father had said so. Gradually, her breathing be
came normal, and she looked out from the pillow with one
eye as if she expected to find someone observing her in
the room itself.
She climbed from the bed and drew the curtain. Every
thing was quiet, the woods, the fields, the isolated cottages
at the approach to the village, and the two gates, barely
visible in the flush of light from her father's window. She
waited for a few minutes, staring down the road towards
the canal, till, suddenly, with a shiver, she threw the en
velope onto the table, and began to brush her hair.
The handwriting was firm and square-shaped. From the
start she had thought it was from Eleanore, and now that
she had spoken to her in Rome, Valerie was certain. Martin
Lambert. She imagined Eleanore writing the name, not as
the designation of a stranger, but as her title to his posses
sion. Long ago two years ago she herself had written to
Lambert when he had sent her an illustrated copy of
Mansfield Park. (She moved the lamp so that it threw deep
shadows under her chin, and nose and eyes, and she brushed
her hair back at the sides behind her ear, wondering
whether he would prefer it if she had it cut short.)
"Dear Mr. Lambert/' she had written. And before she
sent it, she copied it out three times, and showed the final
draft to her father. "Dear Mr. Lambert, It was so very kind
of you to send me Mansfield Park. Jane Austen is my
favourite author. I had all her novels with the exception of
Mansfield Park, and I am looking forward most awfully to
reading it. I believe they are 'doing it' " she was proud of
the inverted commas around 'doing it' "for advanced.
Daddy and I both hope you will soon come and see us
And for weeks, till she returned to school, she had
watched the post each day in the hope that somehow the
book and her letter marked the beginning of a prolonged
correspondence. But nothing happened. Out of habit she
looked each morning in the post for his handwriting, some
times asking her father, usually without success, about
Lambert where he was, when he would come again, what
he was doing.
After she had brushed her hair, she smeared her face with
a complexion-food which she had bought by post from an
advertiser in Beauty. She rubbed -the cream in with her
finger-tips, clockwise and counter-clockwise as instructed,
till her cheeks glowed with grease. Her inspection of her
shining face displeased her, and she dried it with paper-
tissues, and hastily covered the glistening surface with
"Now," she said to her reflection, "you look like a ghost."
It was past eleven, and while waiting for Lambert, she
decided that she would write him a letter. To begin with, she
tried the door in order to make sure that it was locked.
Then she took off her blouse and skirt, and put on her blue
dressing gown that hung behind the door. As if performing
a rite, she placed her hairbrushes on the right-hand side
of the table and her pots of cream and lotions on the left.
From the top drawer, she took out a writing-pad and her
fountain-pen, thought for a few moments, and wrote with
out pause till she had finished.
"Dear darling Martin, darling, darling Martin, I am writ
ing this to you in my bedroom. Everyone has gone to sleep,
and I am waiting for you to come back. I am writing this to
tell you that all day long I've been longing and yearning to
see you again. Ever since you came here last, I have woken up
every day and wondered if by some wonderful miracle you
would come back again. When I saw you, I could hardly
speak and wanted to sit down. And you were just as I re
membered you when you walked with me and gave me the
wistaria from the bush.
Darling Martin, I know all this sounds terribly, terribly
silly, but I have to write you this so that you will know that
I love you. You will think perhaps that I do not know my
mind. Oh, Martin, please, please, please believe that I do.
I have thought and thought of you for years, and remem
bered how it was when you held my hand when we walked
in the garden. It was exactly the same when you held my
hand in the library, and whatever happens, dearest, dearest
Martin, I want you to know that I could never feel for any-
one what I feel for you. I love you, and I will never love
anyone else in the world but you. I know that you may
think this letter stupid and schoolgirlish, but I can't help
it. I do so want you to know what an awful ache I have when
you are not here, and how when you come back, everything
is well again.
And sometimes I wish that the whole world hated you so
that I could be the only one in the world who loved you.
This morning Colonel Barraclough asked me all sorts of
questions and wanted me to tell him what I thought about
you. And I wanted to tell him that you are the most won
derful person in the world and that I loved you. But I
didn't tell him that. I only said that I thought you were
very nice. I know that you are in great trouble. Daddy
told me. I don't care what it is all about. I would love you
if you were a murderer.
Dear, dear, darling Martin, I send you all my love."
She tightened the belt of her dressing gown, and leaning
over the page again, signed it, "Valerie." Having done so,
she gathered up the six blue pages of her writing-paper,
read the letter slowly again, folded it in two, and then care
fully tore it into tiny pieces that she heaped together in a
large, glass ashtray. A fragment fell fluttering to the ground,
and she gathered it up. Written on it were the words "love
you if," and she tore it horizontally so that the letters were
finally disfigured, before placing the confetti in the tray.
For the next five minutes, she burnt the pieces, lighting
match after match, till the pyre turned to ash, and her letter
Valerie lay in the dark with her eyes wide open, waiting
for the sweep of headlights across the room, the sound of
crushed gravel and the slam of the motor-car door. To resist
the tidal drag of sleep, she had placed her bare arm,
martyred by the cold night air, on the counterpane. If he
asked her whether there had been any telephone calls for
him, she would say "No." Eleanore had abused his kindness
and forbearance and smudged his prospect of happiness.
And she, herself, had merely defended him against his
inability to wound even people like Eleanore who tried to
She drew her chilled hand under the covers and warmed
it against her body. She wondered what Eleanore had
wanted. Only to worry and harass him of that she was
certain. Perhaps if he knew, he'd be angry. The surge of
defiance was followed by a sinking into doubt. Perhaps
Eleanore had wanted to tell him something for his benefit.
But that was impossible. Her father had described Eleanore
as an incubus. "She's got her claws into him/' he had said,
"and won't let him go. She doesn't want anyone else to
have him. She's the sort of woman who can only enjoy being
unfaithful to her husband when she's on good terms with
She hated her father when he spoke like that; and yet it
was true. Why didn't Eleanore leave Martin alone? Why?
Her doubt was replaced by triumph. She was glad she'd
told Eleanore that Martin couldn't be reached. She gazed
around at the room, now mottled with moonlight, and her
glance rested on the airmail envelope, a shadow on the
glittering top of her dressing table. She wished she could
know exactly what Martin and Eleanore signified to each
other. How could anyone know the truth, the real truth,
the private truth, the pillow-truth that was it, the pillow-
truth when the door is locked and your face is shut in the
pillow and you confess the truth to yourself?
She got out of bed, put on her dressing gown, and went
to the window. The hills and pond were lit with a steel-
blue light, and the village was fringed with a greyish
penumbra of meadows. After looking out for several
minutes, Valerie drew the curtains again, switched on the
dressing-table lamp and began to brush her hair again,
determined to keep awake till Lambert returned. Tired, at
last, of the repetitive strokes, she put down the brush and
picked up the letter, and began to wonder idly if it was a
long letter or a short note. She felt it, and pressed its upper
and lower edges till it bulged convexly, and the sealed flap
split a little in the right-hand corner. A twitch of excitement
passed through her body, and she held the envelope to the
With the back of the comb, she began to ease open the
envelope. The twitch changed to an agonising sense of guilt
and shame. The flap yielded, and she pressed the comb
harder against the adhesive. The envelope tore, the distance
of about half an inch. Desperately, like someone surrender
ing to a resisted vice, she tore the whole flap away from the
envelope and fumbled the sheet of paper from its pouch.
Her hands were shaking violently and she put the letter
on the table, and rested her hot face in the palms of her
hands as she read.
You will probably be surprised to get this letter from
Rome surprised, that is, if it reaches you before I 'phone.
I left Bandol last Wednesday, and flew here from Nice. Dr.
Fourneaux told me I could have gone several weeks ago,
but I wanted to be sure that everything was all right. I paid
him the 200 that you sent me, and explained to him that
you were getting permission from the Treasury to send
him the balance. He was very kind and helpful, and re-
assuring. It was his idea that I should go to Rome for a few
weeks before going home, and I am writing this from the
Hotel Regina. I'm sorry to worry you with something very
practical, but if you could send me, say, 100, it would be a
I am feeling so much better. I don't see anyone, and don't
want to. Yesterday, I went by train to Ostia and swam and
lay on the beach and thought and thought about us, Martin,
wondering what went wrong ..."
Valerie turned the page over with her finger-tips as if by
that delicacy she might minimise her offence.
". . . and how it was that our love and happiness came
to ruin when it had all been so lovely and perfect.
The leaves are falling in the Pincio Gardens, but the sun
is still hot. I walked this morning down the alley-way of
statues that you liked so much, and remembered the first
time we were together in Rome. And I wished I could tear
away all the years and the happenings that have come be
tween us. I wished I could ask your pardon," a few words
were crossed out here, "the many wrongs that I have done
you in the last few years, and that you perhaps since you
are proud and stubborn, might think that it wasn't all my
fault not all and that you too might have had some part
in the unhappiness we shared.
I went to the children's fountain by the cypress trees, and
watched them playing, and knew then I was cured. Be
cause all I felt was affection and love and warmth.
When I telephone you, I want to ask you, Martin, to let
me come home. Please, please, darling Martin, let me come
home. I'm so tired of nursing-homes and hotels. I want to
be with you again, and to wake up at last from all my
And if I end this letter by saying that I love you, don't
look cold and hostile. I love you, Martin. And that is the
Valerie finished reading the letter, and stared at her
image in the looking-glass.
"What an awful thing to have done!" she said aloud.
Hearing the rattle of the first gate being unlatched, she
switched off the light, stuffed the letter into the top drawer,
and leapt into bed, still wearing her dressing gown. There
she lay listening to the sequence of the sounds of Lambert's
"I feel sick," she said to herself, and soon afterwards fell
THE CLANK AND scrape of a shovel on the stone terrace,
mingled with a hiss of scattering sand, woke Valerie at
half past eight. For a few seconds, she lay looking at the
opaque traceries of frost on the window, at ease in the
thought that Lambert had returned and that she was now
delivered from her anxieties of the evening before. Her
tweed dress, spread over an arm-chair, and her suit with
the green velvet collar, hanging outside the wardrobe, were
the alternatives in the insistent question of which would
please him more. She visualised herself in each, and re
jected the dress because he had seen her in it twice already.
"Hello, Caz," she called out from the window to the
Polish tractor-driver. "What's it like?"
He stopped shovelling the sand from his wheelbarrow,
bowed and said, his breath making patterns in the crisp air,
"Very icy, Miss Valerie. Glassy. You must be careful."
He waved in the direction of the sun that divided the
landscape into two sections, one where its rays had dispersed
the morning mist and remained corruscating over the green,
and the other enclosing the woods in a thin haze.
"It will be very beautiful today/' he said.
"Yes, it's going to be lovely," Valerie replied. She wanted
to be bathed and dressed so that she could see Lambert as
soon as possible. But when she glimpsed the letter from Italy
in her half -open drawer, she closed it hastily and waited for
minutes before she dared open it to take out her hair
"Have you seen Mr. Lambert?" she asked Margaret.
"In his room/' the maid replied.
"No, he isn't there/' said Valerie. "I looked."
"I suppose you would," said Margaret, laying the table.
"Has he had breakfast?" Valerie asked.
"Not here he hasn't," said Margaret. "He was sulky, like,
this morning. Read the papers, and left them all over the
room. You want your breakfast?"
"No. Do you know if he went out?"
"How would I know?" Margaret answered, her small eyes
indifferent. "Meals are all times here. . . ."
"He must have gone out," said Valerie. She went towards
the door, and Margaret called after her, "What about your
breakfast? I can't stand over the gas-stove all day."
Mumbling to herself, she began to prepare the tray for
Fergusson's breakfast in bed.
"I brought you some apples, miss," said the tractor-
driver, bowing as Valerie stood on the stone steps looking
anxiously across the fields. She didn't answer, and he re
peated, "Some apples, miss. I picked them for you in the
He took the heavy basket that hung from a handle of his
wheelbarrow, and gave it to her.
"Oh yes thanks awfully," she said, putting the basket
on the top step. "Have you seen Mr. Lambert?"
Disappointed by her casual reception of his gift, the Pole
bowed again, and said stiffly, "I saw him ten minutes ago. He
had your father's gun."
"My father's gun? What do you mean?"
"He was going shooting."
Again she scanned the brown and green landscape,
straining her eyes in the direction of the mist.
"Did he say where he was going, Caz? What did he say to
He had begun again to scatter sand over the icy terrace in
slow sweeps like a scytheman.
"He didn't tell me where he was going," he answered
without looking at her. "He didn't speak to me. Here I am
only a tractor-driver. In Poland . . ."
But she had already hurried down to the iron fence
bounding the gravel drive from the first field.
"Martin!" she called. "Martin!"
She climbed the bars, and began to walk over the frost-
hardened clods of the field towards the copse just visible
above the horizon. She walked gingerly, wishing that she
had been wearing lower heels.
"Martin!" she called. "Martin!" Her voice carried lightly
over the slopes of the fields without reply, and a beginning
of anxiety quickened her step. Sometimes her father used
to go rabbiting in Piper's wood, and she decided that he
had probably spoken to Lambert about it, and that Lam
bert would follow the footpath that bordered the third
meadow. But first she had to cross a soggy field of stubble,
and the instep of her right shoe became clotted with a
wedge of mud and squelched with each step that she took.
"Martin!" she called towards the copse. "Martin!" and
like a false echo, she heard her own name relayed by the
tractor-driver from Margaret on the steps of the house:
"Valer-ie! Miss Valer-ie!"
She began to run, driven on by the image of the gun, the
precise centre of an amorphous fear. Suddenly, the reason
why Martin had taken the gun had become clear to her. Not
for rabbiting. Not for sport. Not for pleasure. But for
something unspeakably horrible. Her feet sank into a rut
and she tripped and sank on one knee, tearing her stocking.
She picked herself up and started running down the slippery
grass field towards the birch copse that sprawled like a black
and silver promontory into the fields.
"Martin!" she called again. "Martin! Martin! Martin!"
She had taken his letter. She had prevented him from
talking to his wife. She had lied and lied and lied. Martin!
She said to herself as she ran, "Please, God; please, God;
please, God. Please let him not do anything to himself, and
I'll tell him everything and beg his forgiveness, and never,
never do anything like it again. Never." And the image of a
hideous, bloody mess like the head of a rabbit blasted by a
shotgun drove her on.
"Martin!" she tried to call, but only a strange mew came
from her constricted throat, unfamiliar, terrifying. She had
begun to weep, and the wind smeared her tears over her
face. She fell again, and this time, lay with grass and earth
pressed against her face waiting for the sound of a shot.
"Please, God, no," she said. "Please no."
She could see the gun on its bracket which she had ob
served a thousand times with indifference. She remembered
her father cleaning it. And the gun itself became personal
and hateful in her memory. Everything connected with it,
including her father, seemed hateful. And she remembered
the day she had told Lambert that her father had cleaned the
gun for him; and that she too was guilty.
She got up and began to run, hobbling across the last field
that led to the wood. Her leg was hurting; all she could see
was the blur of the trees; and the wind caked the mud on her
hands into a hard clay.
"Martin!" she called. "Martin!"
When she was about thirty yards from the copse, a single
shot, abrupt and brutal, exploded in the air, accompanied
by a tumult of birds disturbed from the trees. The echoes
vibrated like the sounds of a broken string till they settled
and faded in silence. Valerie stopped, wiped her eyes with
the back of her hand, and said, "Oh, God!" She took her
glasses from her pocket, put them on, and began to walk
slowly towards the spur of the wood.
At that moment, Fausto came leaping across the grass,
followed by Lambert with the gun under his arm.
"Hello, Valerie," said Lambert. "I've been firing a
She took off her glasses and said, without looking at him,
"Hello, Martin. I came to tell you breakfast's ready. Get
Lambert stood in front of her and said, observing the
mud on her suit and the drying tears on her face, "I missed."
She looked down at the wet leaves, and said, "I suppose
you're out of practice. I didn't mean to disturb you."
"I'm not out of practice," said Lambert, taking her arm,
and walking around the wood, away from the house. "I
always miss. The only reason I shoot is because I like the
noise it makes."
"That's what I loathe," said Valerie. "It's so irrevocable.
First of all, there's silence. Then there's a frightful bang.
And then you wait. . . . It's done. ..."
"I know," said Lambert. "Nothing left but to pick up
the feathers. Why've you been crying?"
He stopped, and stacked his gun against the fence. Valerie
turned her face away from him, as he stood in front of her.
"I haven't been/' she said.
"Yes, you have. . . ."
"I haven't been. For heaven's sake . . ."
Her nose and her forehead reddened, and her eyelids
swam in tears as if they had been submerged in an eye-bath.
Lambert waited for her to continue.
"I'm not crying," she said. "I got something in my eye
when I was running. And don't stand there looking
"What's wrong, Valerie?" he asked her.
She turned her back to him and burst into sobs, articulate
and anguished. Lambert stood watching the back of her
neck and her quivering shoulders, and, at last, put his hands
beneath her elbows, and said, "Tell me what it's about"
Her weeping gradually stopped, and she turned to him
and said, "Oh, Martin, I'm so unhappy so terribly un
"Why?" he asked, and passed his fingers over her face
and through her hair behind her ear.
"I don't know," she said. "I'm unhappy about every
thing about father and myself . . ."
"Why are you unhappy about him?"
"It's because he's so lonely and old and unhappy. And
there's nothing I can do to help him except be with him
and I can't do that always. . . . He's so old and pathetic."
"I thought you liked it here. You once told me . . ."
"I know I did. But it isn't true. I hate it. I can almost
hear the years sounding like a clock. It's a beastly feel
ing. . . ."
"What else are you unhappy about?"
"I'm unhappy about myself."
"I just think I'm loathesome."
He lifted her chin to look into her face, but she wriggled
it out of his hand.
"What particular loathesome acts have you performed
lately?" he asked.
"Oh, all kinds," she said, and wiped her nose. "Tell me,
Martin. If I were to do something very terrible . . ."
"No, don't be silly. If I were to steal something, say,
would you forgive me?"
"Of course I would. What have you stolen?"
"Nothing. . . . Would you forgive me if I did any
thing ? T)
"What wouldn't you forgive?"
Leaning on the fence, with his hands forming an en
closure around Valerie, he thought for a few seconds and
said, "I don't think I could forgive anyone not even you
who betrayed me."
"Betrayed," she repeated, looking over his shoulder at
the sunlit fields. "What an old-fashioned word! What do
you mean by it?"
Lambert drew away from her. "I mean," he said, "that
human relations are based on trust. It makes people pre
dictable. If they betray one person's trust they betray every
"I don't know," Valerie said slowly. "You always need
two people to establish trust. And each person tries to
interpret in his own way the meaning of that trust. It's
private. It's got nothing to do with society. It's per
sonal. . . . The only true judges of treachery are the
Valerie looked straight into Lambert's eyes, and went on,
"For example ... if father knew I was standing here
talking to you like this . . . he'd think I was breaking his
trust in me."
Lambert took her face in his hands.
"It's innocuous. Isn't it?"
Valerie looked back at him. "I don't know," she said.
"Daddy wouldn't think so. But you see I don't think I'm
breaking my faith with him. I think I know I'm sure I
know that basically he wants my happiness. And what my
happiness is I know far better than he does."
Lambert leaned back against the fence, drew her towards
him, and spoke to her with her face against his.
"Would you " he asked her, "would you leave your
father even if it made him unhappy?"
She thought for a few moments, and then said, "Yes. I'd
leave him if I loved someone . . . and if I felt it was im
portant and lasting. Is that a terrible thing to say?"
"No, I'm sure that's right!" said Lambert. "Your father's
had his youth."
"That sounds like a quotation," said Valerie. "Daddy
said it about someone else. . . . But anyhow we've all
had our youth. Me, too. We all had it when the hydrogen
bomb was invented. There aren't any young people any
more. We've all become equally old, waiting for the bang."
"You look very young for an old lady," said Lambert
"Don't jeer at me, and don't be silly," said Valerie.
"You've all made a mess of things . . ."
"You have ... all of you. Daddy. The Prime Minister.
Everyone. The people who could have done things after the
war. And when we tell you it's your fault, you hide behind
a kind of cynicism. . . . There aren't any young or old any
more. Really not! There are only the ignorant and the
"The happy and the unhappy. Which are you?"
"Neither. I'm just hovering. I've been trying to make my
Lambert shrugged his shoulders.
"Your father's an intelligent and moderately unselfish
man. He wouldn't want to feed on your kindness merely
because his own life went wrong!"
"He isn't moderately unselfish," said Valerie. "He's very
selfish and not very understanding."
"What would he say," Lambert asked, kissing her in front
of her ear, "if you were to tell him that we were going for a
month to Italy together?"
"Yes you and I."
Her eyes became bright with delight.
"He'd have a fit," she said.
"Well, say " said Lambert, and he kissed her from the
lobe of her ear to the corner of her mouth. "Do you like
"Yes," she said, and the smile ebbed from her face.
"Say you were to tell him," said Lambert, "that you
wanted to learn Italian without telling him about me?
How would he like that?"
"I don't know . . I hadn't thought of . . ."
"No, I know. It's my idea. What do you think of it?"
She had closed her eyes, and now opened them.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," she said. "Absolutely
"Perhaps you could stay there for several months . . ."
"Where would we stay?" she asked.
"I don't know, somewhere in Rome."
"No," she said quickly, and pushed him away. "Not
Rome. Anywhere else. But not Rome."
"Why not? Have you ever been there?"
"No. Don't ask me why I don't want to go to Rome. I
"All right," he said, drawing her back to him. "Not
Rome. What about Paris?"
"Yes . . . please," she said, and the pleasure returned to
her face. "Please!"
He took her arm, and went with her into the wood.
"Tell me, Martin," she said after they had walked for a
few moments in silence. "Is there anything wrong?"
"Daddy says you're in trouble about something/'
He stopped by a thick beech tree, propped his gun against
it, and took her hands in his.
"He's quite right/' he said with a shrug. "I am in
trouble." He kicked a fallen branch with his toe, and said,
"I've resigned from the F.O. ... I wasn't joking before.
Not about myself. I'm going away. . . ."
"But you were joking about me when you asked me?"
"Half-joking," said Lambert. "It was a phantasy a sort
He put his arm around her, and she spoke with her face
against his jacket without looking up.
"If you go away," she said, "I want to go with you. Please,
Martin . . . please. I wouldn't be a nuisance. I swear to
you I wouldn't. I'd "
"What about your father?"
"I can't help that. Everyone has a right to be happy. Why
should I always, always, always sacrifice myself for him?
He's never done anything for me. It's all a pretence."
"And my wife?"
"Your wife . . . ?" She hesitated, and said, "I'm sorry for
her, very sorry. But she had her chance to make you happy.
She did, didn't she? And she didn't take it . . ."
He kissed her mouth before she finished her sentence. She
kissed him with her lips closed and her eyes open and
"Miss Valerie," came the voice of the tractor-driver,
approaching. "Breakfast. Margaret says breakfast/'
"Coming, Caz," she called back. "Coming!"
When they emerged from the other side of the copse, the
Pole saw them and turned back to the house with Fausto
bounding after him.
"Well, what did you get, Martin?" said Fergusson who
was waiting for them in the breakfast-room.
"Nothing," said Lambert. "Your daughter got in my line
Fergusson patted her elbow. It was a favourite gesture of
his when he was pleased with her.
"Thank you for your forbearance," he said. "I wouldn't
have liked you to have hit my daughter."
"Don't worry, Daddy," said Valerie, offering Lambert the
toast-rack. "He would have missed."
Fergusson laughed, and helped himself to coffee.
"You shouldn't, Daddy," said Valerie.
"I know," said Fergusson. "But I like it. I'm feeling very
well today. . . . What a glorious day! . . . How would
you two like to come to the races?"
"Wonderful idea!" said Lambert.
"Marvellous!" said Valerie.
"You see," said Fergusson, "we have to go to London the
day after tomorrow."
Valerie stopped eating, and said, "I didn't know, Daddy."
"No, of course you didn't," said Fergusson, filling his
pipe. "I only decided this morning. I thought we'd look
round at some places, and see if we couldn't arrange some
coaching for you before you go up."
Lambert looked across the table at Fergusson who smiled
back and offered him a cigarette from the bird's-eye maple
"I wouldn't like to interfere with your arrangements,
John," he said. "Are you sure you don't want to leave
earlier? My own arrangements are very " he hesitated for
the word, "very adaptable."
"I know," said Fergusson. "I know. You haven't seen the
papers this morning?"
"Yes," said Lambert. "But I don't give a damn what the
papers say. . . ."
"There's quite a lot about him this morning pictures,
too," Fergusson said to Valerie.
"Let me see," she said. She picked up the swath of news
papers from the arm-chair and shuffled the front pages.
"Good lord!" she said suddenly. "Look at this picture of
Martin. It's practically the whole page. And look at the
Lambert took the paper, as if indifferently, from her
hands, and read the thick banner headline. "F.O. MAN
"Are they all like that?" Valerie asked him.
"Pretty well with variants according to style F.O.
man, diplomat, diplomatist, Foreign Office official . . ."
"How sickening!" said Valerie.
"Are you quite sure," Lambert asked Fergusson, "that
I'm not embarrassing you by my presence?"
"Certainly not!" Fergusson said quickly. "We like a
little excitement, don't we, Valerie?"
"Yes love it," she said.
"There were a few telephone calls for you," said Fergus-
son. Valerie waited anxiously for his next sentence. "The
press, you know," he went on. "I shunted them off."
"Thank you so much. I'd rather not talk to the press
not yet, at any rate. I'm probably going away."
"I'm not quite sure. Rome or somewhere . . ."
"Oh, but you said you wouldn't go to Rome!" Valerie
said quickly. "You know you did, Martin."
Her father didn't interrupt the rhythmic puffs of his
pipe, but he said, "Don't agitate yourself, Valerie. Rome or
Madrid or Paris they all have the same value as
retreats. Have you cleared everything up, Martin?"
"I've got nothing to clear," said Lambert. *Tve sent a
report to the P.M. and to Baggott. They've been through
my flat ransacked the whole place and they're welcome
to what they've got. I've got nothing to hide and nothing to
clear up. When I go if I may, I'll leave you my address
abroad. Are you likely to be in France or Italy this
"I don't think so/' said Fergusson. "I don't think so."
"But perhaps I will be," said Valerie. "I'd love to go to
one of those courses at Pau or the Sorbonne or somewhere
like that. Do you think I might?" she asked her father. "It
would be terribly useful if I could spend a month or two in
France before I go to Oxford. Do say 'yes/ Daddy?"
Fergusson smiled to Lambert.
"What an exquisite age, Martin!" he said. "To think that
there was ever a time when our only problems were Pau
or the Sorbonne? What do you think? Should I let her go?"
"I don't know," said Lambert, cautiously. "At any rate,
I wouldn't recommend Pau in the autumn and winter. I'm
not even sure if they have courses ..."
"I don't specially want to go to Pau," said Valerie. "I'd
settle for Paris the Sorbonne. I simply yearn to go to the
Sorbonne. . . . Do say 'yes/ Daddy. It's a wonderful idea."
"I'll have to discuss it further with Martin," said Fergus-
son like a magistrate reserving judgment. "I'm not sure
that I can expose you to the depredations of the resident
"But, Daddy," Valerie protested, "I thought you were a
Francophile. . . ."
"Not to that extent," said Fergusson. "What about the
races this afternoon?"
"Lovely!" said Valerie. "What car shall we take? Can I
"I'll take my car if you like," said Lambert.
"All right," said Fergusson. "And Valerie can pack a
picnic." He became lively at the prospect. "Tell Caz to get
up two bottles of Chambertin 'Forty-five. And see if you can
have a chicken done in time.'*
"Yes, Daddy," said Valerie, and ran out of the room,
looking for Margaret.
Fergusson turned over the pile of newspapers before
speaking. At last, he said, "You know the Rond Point des
"Yes," said Lambert.
"Well, not far from there is a place called Le Beaujeu,
near the Marigny Theatre . . ."
Lambert waited for him to continue.
"When you're next in Paris/' Fergusson went on, "you
must try their crudites, Sauce Bagnarotte delicious and
their steak au poivre most excellent. Pleasant place
apart from the actors and dressmakers."
"Would you like me to leave today, John?" Lambert
asked, standing. "I don't want to inconvenience you I
Fergusson averted his glance. "No, I don't want you to
go but you will understand I don't want Valerie to be
come distressed or anything like that."
"I see," said Lambert. "I understand. I'll leave tonight."
"No, not tonight," said Fergusson. "Why not tomorrow
that's it tomorrow!"
He sat down in the arm-chair, and began gently to mas
sage his chest.
"Are you all right?" Lambert asked. He had turned to go,
but now paused at the door.
Fergusson waved him away. "I'm all right I'm all right."
With two fingers he fumbled in his pocket for a pill
In the hall, Lambert was greeted by Margaret.
"Two men to see you," she said.
"In the study. They said you wasn't to hurry."
WHITE WITH PALE freckles, the bald head over the inces
santly writing hand was itself like a featureless, anonymous
face. Barraclough had announced his name, and he had
nodded. Since then, he had been silent, writing without
looking up from his pad that he had rested on an oak coffee-
"Leave it for a moment, Tom," Barraclough said. And
Lambert saw the flickering pen stop, arrested by the order,
while the pallid scalp still brooded over the paper.
"I don't know whether you've heard about Sparr-
Gamby," said Barraclough, propping his elbows on his
"No. What about him?" Lambert asked.
"They're taking him in this morning," said Barra
clough. "Pity. They'll confuse the whole situation."
Lambert began to laugh, quietly at first and then more
loudly, till at last, uncontrollably, he went to the window
and stood there, gasping with laughter, while Barraclough
watched him gravely.
"What's the joke?" he said when Lambert's laughter had
subsided into helpless exhaustion.
"It's so bloody funny," said Lambert, taking his seat. "So
"It's very funny/' said Barraclough. "The F.O. is very
attached to its prejudices/'
"What have they got him for?" Lambert asked. "Hand
ing over the Brangwyn Report?"
"That's in reserve," said Barraclough. "They're holding
him for something else affaire de moeurs . . ."
"You mean that Earl's Court business last year?"
"Something of that kind."
"But it was all dealt with in the Office."
Barraclough stretched himself, and yawned.
"Left London at seven this morning . . . yes, it's all
old stuff . . . but somebody wanted action before to
morrow. . . . Where were we, Tom?"
Without raising his head, the shorthand-writer said, in a
monotone, " 'Barraclough: Now tell me, Lambert, what did
you do when you returned from Italy? Lambert: I was at
the Foreign Office for a few months, and then I was trans
ferred to the United States/ "
"Yes," said Barraclough reflectively. "Yes. You enjoyed
your stay in America."
"On the whole yes," said Lambert.
"New York, Washington, Chicago you were posted to
all three in turn?"
"And you had many friends there."
"Yes. Very many."
"Your wife was with you?"
"Yes. The whole time."
"But you had to travel quite a bit lectures, broadcasts,
talks, receptions, dinners that kind of thing."
"Yes. I did all that it was part of my duties."
Barraclough raised his hand.
"My dear Lambert," he said, "don't apologise. These
aren't imputations. I merely want a picture, for the record,
of your life in America."
"What's that got to do with the subject of your in
Barraclough answered curtly, "Perhaps you'll leave me to
answer that. . . . Tell me something about Augier. When
did you first meet him?"
"I've known him on and off for a long time. I've seen him
quite a bit in London."
"I'm not asking you that. I'm asking when you first met
Lambert thought for a moment, and said, "I first met
him in New York, in May, 1946."
"Good," said Barraclough. "Have you got that, Tom?"
The bald head jerked.
"Now, tell me, Lambert," said Barraclough. "On what
sort of terms were you with Augier?"
Lambert picked up a magazine, fluttered the pages and
put it down again.
"I knew him as a journalist. My job was to be a sort of
high-level public relations man I had to keep on good
terms with anyone who might influence opinion and
Augier was a useful person to know."
"How useful? . . . Well, he was in contact with his own
Embassy with the U.N. delegations with a swarm of
people who wouldn't confide in an Englishman for one
reason or another."
"Yes. And he, no doubt, found you useful."
"Yes. He must have."
"Of course he did. And very properly. It was your job,
wasn't it, to feed the press with news and opinion about
"Interpretation, chiefly. It wasn't my job to give out hard
"No, quite clearly," said Barraclough in friendly agree
ment. "Your position was more important than that. But
say, two or three times when Augier wanted information
he did ring you, didn't he?"
Lambert looked back at Barraclough's smiling face, and
said, "What sort of information?"
"Oh, perfectly respectable stuff about Bretton Woods,
GATT and that kind of thing ..."
"Yes, I habitually gave the press including Augier
whatever I could."
"I see," said Barraclough. "You gave them very prop
erly background information. . . . Well, let's have a
look at something else. This fellow Augier ... he had a
flat an apartment, I suppose it's called looking over
Lambert made no comment.
"It was, I imagine, like his London flat," Barraclough
"Augier was a very hospitable person," said Lambert.
"He was always having people in for drinks."
"Yes," said Barraclough, examining a schedule in front
of him. "I have a list of his guests."
"Have you been burgling him as well?" asked Lambert.
"Oh, yes," said Barraclough the wavering pen had
paused "but this lot's from America. You see, your friend
Augier made a business of friendship. He had all his friends
card-indexed professions, Jbeauty, connections, wealth. It
was all there. Didn't you notice how nicely cooked his
parties were all the ingredients in due proportion
tycoons, actresses, lawyers, bishops?"
"I never gave it a thought. Most parties in America are
"That may be," said Barraclough. "But I would have
thought you might have paid special attention to Augier's
parties. In 1951, during May you were at his flat on the
seventeenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-seventh
and the thirtieth. In June and July, you were with
him . . ."
"You needn't go through the statistics," said Lambert. "I
will assume that you've read my diaries with due care and
attention. What are you trying to prove?"
"For the moment, I am only trying to establish this
that you know Augier well that you've known him for
y ears that you've both been in the habit of doing each
other favours. . . ."
"And then I think you may agree with me that the ex
planation of how you came to give the Brangwyn Report to
Augier is a simple one a very simple one . . ."
There was a knock at the door, and Margaret came in,
wiping her hands.
"Any of you want coffee?" she asked.
Barraclough relayed her question.
The head moved silently, as the hand accelerated to catch
up with the last sentences.
"I must stretch myself," said Barraclough, standing. "I
get the most awful fibrositis in my back the Anglo-Saxon
complaint. Rheumatism, catarrh and premature deafness
it's our malaria. We're apathetic about it as the Egyptians
about bilharzia. Just as damaging, too, though not so
He walked around the room, and then waited while
Margaret stood holding the coffee-tray.
"I want the table," she said peremptorily to the
shorthand-writer. Without answering, he raised his head
till his eyes, colourless in the light from the window, stared
into her own small eyes. Hastily, she put the tray on the
desk, and left the room.
"Tom, you see/' said Barraclough, "is a man of com
pelling personality. Black or white, Lambert?"
"White," said Lambert. "How much more of this is
"Not much," said Barraclough reassuringly. "Perhaps
another hour. I've got the main things down. I only want to
deal with a few straggling threads. For example . . ."
He laid aside his half-finished cup of coffee, and the pen
"For example," he repeated, "when did your child die?"
"What's that got to do with you?" said Lambert.
"I'm sorry," said Barraclough. "It's relevant."
"It's relevant to nothing," said Lambert, "except to my
"And to your wife?"
"And to my wife."
It was relevant to Eleanore. After the winter and the
piled-up snow, the blizzards from the lake setting the ice
hard on the Chicago streets, after the short days when the
Loop was brilliant with light at four o'clock in the after
noon and the children in the station-wagons had been
wrapped in wool for a season, the spring came, and she was
less afraid, seeing the rare magnolias and the plane trees in
bud. In November, Nicholas had developed what Dr. Reed
called "an upper respiratory infection" and she had sat with
him constantly till the fever had gone. And during the days
of Nicholas' illness, whenever Lambert returned at night
from the Consulate or the parties of the Aviation Conven
tion, he would find her sitting quietly, often in darkness,
watchful and attentive, while in the next room, the nurse
listened resentfully to a wireless-set subdued almost to
Each time, the same question. "How is he, nurse?"
"Better quite better. There's no sense in Mrs. Lambert
sitting in all the time."
And Eleanore would say, "I'm glad you're back, Martin.
I was so worried at about four. But when Dr. Reed came,
he said we needn't be alarmed . . ."
"I spoke to him/' said Lambert. "He said Nicholas is
quite better and that you're overdoing things you mustn't
exaggerate, darling. He's only had a bad cold."
"I know. But I'm worried about him. I'm always worried
about him. I wish you didn't have to go out so much. Can't
we sometimes be alone together the three of us?"
And he had turned away in irritation, and said, "For
heaven's sake, Eleanore. . . . You know I've got to do all
this. You've become pathological about Nicholas. He isn't
a child in arms. He's nearly eight, but you smother him with
your devotion." And he had looked at her matt face, and
added, "It's not really devotion. It's a form of selfishness.
You've got to have some possession something that's
"Why do you say that?" she had asked. And she followed
him into the living-room. "I'm anxious about Nicholas.
That isn't abnormal. And I'd rather stay with him. . . ."
But he turned his back on her, and went into the bath
room, and started the shower.
It had been a good party at the Saddle and Cycle Club.
He had wanted Eleanore to come, but, in a way, it had been
better without her. Compared with American women, she
was aloof and withdrawn, uncommunicative in feeling as
well as in thought. But American women were friendly and
challenging and gay. They encircled you with an aura of
importance and exhilaration. They made you feel witty and
stimulating. The most ordinary sentences became epigrams
when they stood listening, their eyes eager and interested.
Like Marianne Kinross, Elizabeth McNally. And the pale
girl with a fringe whom he had met at the end of the party.
They weren't constantly preoccupied with their children, as
Eleanore was with Nicholas. They saw life in perspective.
He felt vigorous and energetic under the sharp jets of the
shower bath. He dried himself, and felt that he'd like to
telephone Augier, and go out again the others had gone on
to a night club. But, instead, he put on his pyjamas, and
went into the bedroom where Eleanore, exhausted and fully
dressed, lay fast asleep on the bed.
When the spring came, her anxieties, for a while, be
came less. She allowed Nicholas to go to school more often
in the station-wagon, although she herself, despite his pro
tests, insisted on taking him in their own car when the
weather was specially cold. He was thin and fair, tall for his
age, ardently interested in boats and swimming. For space
men and cowboys he had an unalterable contempt. But his
room was furnished and decorated with ships in all their
manifestations models of schooners, plans of the Queen
Mary, pictures of battleships and even a ship in a bottle that
Lambert had bought for him in a London junk-shop when
he had been on leave.
"I want to go to Michigan," he had said in a slow, Ameri
can voice that was a contrast with Eleanor's crisp, Southern
English accent. Lambert wanted to send him to a school-
camp, but Eleanore opposed the idea. She wanted to be near
him. All their talk at breakfast was of their summer holiday
together, of lakes and boats and rigs.
In late spring, her anxieties about his colds diminished
only to be replaced by a new alarm when she heard that
four cases of poliomyelitis had been reported nearby on
the North Side, Lambert reassured her.
At night, with their door an inch ajar in case Nicholas
stirred, she would lie wakeful, and say, "Reassure me, my
darling. I get so terrified about Nicholas especially when
you go away. I feel so insecure."
And he would hold her against his body and say, "There's
nothing to be afraid of. Absolutely nothing. You will poison
your whole life if you have this constant vicarious hypo
"I know," she said, "I can't help it. But when you're close
to me like this, it's better. ... He is all right, isn't he?"
"And he doesn't look frail do you think?"
"He looks an American tough guy."
She sighed, and said, "I'm so glad. Why don't you kiss
Towards the end of May, they felt the first stirrings of the
summer heat. Men took off their jackets, and when the
temperature rose the lake rolled heavy and turgid as it
reflected the coppery colour of the sky. For three nights in
succession, Lambert had been to parties for touring Mem
bers of Parliament.
"The most tiresome thing about them," he told Eleanore
afterwards, "is that they come to lecture, and never stop.
. . . Mind you, they're not so bad as ballet dancers. M.P.s
will settle for a consular official. The ballet dancers want
the whole diplomatic corps. Some journalist once called
ballet dancers our travelling ambassadors, and they've taken
him seriously ever since. There's a new batch in tomorrow.
Lap worth's giving a party. Like to come?"
"Well," she said, putting her arms around him, "I will
come if we can get the sitter."
"Oh, come," he said, "you don't really want a sitter for a
"Yes, I do," she answered firmly. "Unless I can take him
to the Garlands'. They've got that girl from the University
who looks after Dick. When does th.e ballet open? I'd adore
to go. Can you get tickets?"
And he put his arms around her, and said, "Eleanore, I'm
tired of being away from England. If you like, I'll try and
get posted home again."
She smiled against his shoulder, and said,
"Oh, Martin. I do want to be home again we've been
so much apart; even in America."
After the stewing heat outside, the refrigerator chill of the
air-conditioned room. The ballet company arrived late,
preceded by its impresario, an elderly American with the
ribbon of the Legion of Honour in his buttonhole, who
acknowledged his chosen acquaintances with a discriminat
ing droop of his hand. Behind him came the ballet's
manager, her face and postures enamelled, each step an
entrance, talking loudly and fluently.
"She's like a cannon that only fires blanks," Lambert said
As the impresario advanced like a court chamberlain, the
guests fell into a double hedge as if waiting to be presented.
The ballerinas followed the manager, demurely and
"Let me introduce you to Livadnova," Lambert said to
his wife. He introduced her to the dancer, and Eleanore
asked, "Are you having an exhausting tour?"
"Oh, yes," said the ballerina, after a pause, friendly and
"And how do you like Chicago?" Eleanore asked encour-
agingly. The ballerina hesitated and looked for guidance
towards the manager, who arrived at that moment.
"You love it," she said in her emphatic voice that made
each syllable sound like an insult. "Don't you, darling?"
"Oh, yes," said Livadnova. And the movement of the
crowd, now pressing, gaping and exclaiming, around the
dancers, separated Eleanore from Lambert who waved and
smiled to her over their heads.
"And how do you like Chicago, Mr. Lambert?" a girl
with a fair fringe asked him. He remembered that he had
met her with Augier in the winter, and he answered in the
prescribed style of the occasion, "I like it a lot better now
than three minutes ago. Let me get you a drink."
And they sat in a corner of the room in the alcove made
by the grand piano and the wall, slowly drinking amid the
accumulating chatter, the scent of the women and the
sweat that pearled despite the air-machine.
At half past seven, Eleanore, withdrawing from the circle
of laughing Americans around her, came up to him, and he
said, rising, to the girl whose name he didn't know, "You
know my wife, of course."
"My name is Isabel Fulton," the girl said. "Your hus
band's been telling me all about England. I bet you're long
ing to get back."
"Well," said Eleanore, smiling, "at the moment I'm long
ing to get back to our son. I've left him with friends, and I Ve
promised to pick him up at half past seven, but Martin
seemed to be enjoying himself so much . . ."
"Too bad," said the girl, and turning to Lambert she
said, "You mustn't miss the night-shift."
With a wave of her hand, she left him, and a moment
later was joining in the tail end of a joke in a nearby group
of her acquaintances.
"Would you like to stay?" Eleanore asked Lambert.
"No/' he said abruptly. "There's no point in staying."
He drove fast and without speaking through the park to
the Garlands' house.
The evening sun was still hot as they drove, but a wind
had begun to blow from the Lake, driving slow, emphatic
waves against the concrete.
"I hope Nicky's wearing his coat," said Eleanore at last.
"Oh, for God's sake, stop fussing," said Lambert, and he
turned the car into the drive. He got out, and his hair blew
into his face.
"Hold on to your hat, Eleanore," he said. "It's pretty
From across the road, a few hundred yards away, they
could hear the boom of the waves, powerful and incessant.
Eleanore leapt out of the car, ran up the steps and pressed
the bell. They waited for a few moments, and Eleanore
brushed her hair back with her fingers. There was no reply.
"Ring again," said Lambert, and he tried to light a
cigarette, but the wind blew it out. Again they waited out
side the door, and Eleanore peered through the thick glass
of the side windows. "Perhaps the bell's out of order," said
Lambert. He put his left arm around Eleanore, and started
to bang with his fist on the door. They heard the sound
reverberate through the rooms as if the house were empty.
"They've probably gone for a walk," said Lambert.
"They've probably gone down to the Lake with the girl.
What time did the Garlands say they'd be back?"
"They're not coming back tonight," said Eleanore.
"They've gone to Detroit. They won't be back till Wednes
day. I arranged with Libby to pick up Nicholas here."
Lambert thudded with his fist against the door and again
they waited for the reply to the sound.
"There can't be anyone in," said Eleanore. "It's so cold
by the Lake. . . ."
"Don't worry," said Lambert, kissing her on the cheek.
"Nicky can look after himself/'
"No, he can't," said Eleanore. "He's such a little boy."
"Come on," said Lambert, soothingly. "Don't be silly.
We'll drive down to the lakeside, and give him hell."
"No, you won't," said Eleanore. "I'll protect him."
"That's better," said Lambert. He looked at the sky that
had changed in tone from its earlier livid colour to the
serene, dark blue of evening. Already some drivers had
switched on their headlights.
"Isn't the sky beautiful?" he asked her.
"Yes," she said, getting in the car. "Do hurry, darling. I
don't want him to be out late without a coat."
Outside the drive, two small boys and a girl were stand
ing, looking towards the house. When Lambert saw them,
he stopped the car and said, "Hello, Carl, seen Dick or
The children didn't answer, and the girl ran away.
"What is it, Carl?" Eleanore asked. "Have you seen
"Miss Bell said to tell you she expected you at seven-
thirty," said the second boy. "She's gonel"
"I saw him, Mrs. Lambert," said Carl. "Not after, though.
They went to the Lake."
"What do you mean?" said Lambert, getting out of the
car. "Where's Nicky?"
"He went sailing his boat, Mrs. Lambert," said the second
"Are they down at the Lake?"
"Sure," said the second boy, relieved at the clarification.
"They're all down at the Lake."
Near the lakeside they saw the crowd assembling as if for
a public meeting cars parked by the side of the drive,
hurrying boys, dawdling Negroes and an ambulance out
of reach of the waves. Nothing on the vast horizon, no ship,
no boat, no person. Lambert stopped the car; Eleanore had
leapt out and was running to the centre of the crowd.
"What's happened. . . ?" she asked a policeman. "What's
happened? I'm looking for my son."
"Just a minute/' said the policeman. He led her through
the crowd, with Lambert following, to the steps of the
ambulance where a boy of about six sat wrapped in
"Dick," she said. "Dick. Where's Nicholas?"
"In the Lake," he said, and began to cry.
Weeks afterwards, when she had returned from hospital,
and her cocktail-dress, soiled to the hips with the slime of the
Lake, had been burnt, she said to Lambert in the middle of
the night when, sleepless, she had stirred him from sleep,
"It was your fault."
He had woken from his own anguish and repeated, "My
"Yes," she said calmly, lying on her back and staring into
the darkness. "It was your fault. You never understood my
love for Nicholas. You were jealous. You made me go to
that party. ... I loathed it. ... That girl with the
fringe . . . That's why Nicky . . ."
She began to weep as if there could be no end to her
misery, and said, "I wish I were dead ... I wish, I wish I
He put his arm on her shoulder, but she pushed it
away. At last, when her sobbing ended, she put her wet,
swollen face against his, and said, "I'm sorry, Martin. I'm
terribly sorry. I hardly know what I'm saying."
And he said, "It's all right, my darling. Try and sleep. I
understand how you feel."
But after a few days she again said to him, "It was your
fault. If it hadn't been for you, Nicky would be alive to
day/' A fortnight later, she was found drunk in the car by
the Planetarium. And at that time, too, Lambert heard at
the Consulate that she was seeing Huysinger every day.
"Well?" said Barraclough.
"The date . . ." said Lambert.
"Yes, the date."
"It was May twenty-fifth. . . ."
"I see. And a day later, I notice, you were listed at a
reception for the International Neurologists."
"And the following evening you were at a concert of the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mrs. Mayhew's party."
"You didn't allow your private grief to interfere with
Lambert flushed, and answered, "They were duties. I
did what I had to."
Barraclough put up his hand.
"I'm not criticising you," he said. "I merely want to get
the picture. What's the time, Tom?"
The shorthand-writer took out his fob-watch, and said,
"Ten to twelve."
"Right-ho," said Barraclough. "We'll go on a little
longer. Where were we?"
"You were asking me about Chicago. . . ."
"Chicago. Yes. Chicago ... All this time, your wife
was in the Macintyre Clinic . . ."
"Not all the time. She was there to begin with."
"To begin with?"
"Yes. I had her taken there from the City Hospital. She
was at the Macintyre Clinic for about a week. After she
came out ... there was the trouble with the car. . . .
She then went to the Parker Clinic. . . . They made it a
"Yes," said Barraclough sympathetically. ''I understand.
It must have been a very difficult time for you. But you had
some excellent friends."
"They were all very good about it at the Consulate."
"And your other friends the Andersons, the Marlowes,
the Mayhews, and so on they were very helpful and
"And Isabel Fulton?"
The girl with the fringe. She had telephoned him early
in June. Lambert looked quickly at Barraclough as he
studied a foolscap sheet with a record of dates pricked out
in red. His expression hadn't altered.
"I saw her a few times. She was sympathetic, and helpful."
"Did she ever visit Mrs. Lambert in hospital?"
"I had that impression," said Barraclough. "But let's
move on. I notice here that you saw a lot of Augier in June
and July. In fact, you travelled with him to Washing
ton. . . ."
For a few moments Lambert didn't answer.
"Why?" Barraclough repeated.
"Well," said Lambert, "I wanted to get away for a bit
"And to help Augier?"
"Partly that. I wanted him to meet some of the new
people on the staff."
"I see. You were, in fact, doing what you'd been doing
for quite a long time. You were feeding Augier with
"You can call it that."
"He was somewhat in your debt."
"I don't know what you mean."
"I'll put it more simply. He was grateful to you."
"I wouldn't put it so strongly. It was my business to
help the press. I tried to help everyone alike."
"Well, let me put the same thing differently inside
out, if you like. . . ."
"You were somewhat in his debt. . . ."
"In what way?"
"In the usual way." Barraclough's voice had become exact.
"You owed him fifteen hundred dollars on July fifteenth."
"You'd got into debt with the clinics. . . ."
Lambert was silent.
"On July first you were overdrawn at the National and
Mutual Bank by eleven hundred and three dollars . . ."
Lambert lit himself a cigarette. "You paid your bill at
the clinics," Barraclough went on. "Did you ever repay
"Yes," said Lambert. "I repaid him the whole lot in
"And borrowed another twelve hundred on December
first. In fact, you've had a running account with him ever
since. You are still, I think, in Augier's debt. . . ."
"What are you suggesting?" Lambert asked.
Barraclough threw his papers aside, and said, "Leave it,
Tom. . . . I'll tell you what I'm suggesting. I'm suggest
ing this that for years you've had the practice a most
proper and desirable one of giving Augier information,
background and general help. Right! And Augier what
ever his motives goodwill, perhaps self -interest I don't
know Augier stood by you when you were in difficulties.
Very well! You've already told us in precise terms that
you gave Augier the Brangwyn Report ..."
". . . on Brangwyn's instructions."
"Let's take it step by step/' said Barraclough. "I'm trying
to see this as a normal, sensible person would see it. You
have a motive of gratitude towards Augier. You have more
than that you have a general sympathy with his political
point of view."
"That isn't true."
"Oh, yes, it is. You said to Cooper only two months ago
I've got it here you said, 1 can understand the French
wanting to be neutral.' "
"I did say that. And I added, '. . . but neutrality nowa
days is a mirage/ You know, Barraclough, the trouble with
informers is that they're usually out of context."
"We'll see about that," said Barraclough. "All I want you
to do, Lambert, is to make a short statement, cancelling any
thing you've put out before. I want a short statement for the
P.M. It'll go something like this. 'I so and so and so and so
wish to state that on such and such a date at such and
such a time at Burlington House delivered to Victor Augier,
a French journalist representing Le Monde Populaire, a
Foreign Office submission' we won't call it a Cabinet
paper 'believing, mistakenly as I now realise, that it was
consistent with my responsibility in-the News Department
to provide this information in anticipation of the Rome
Conference.' What do you think of it?"
"I think," said Lambert, "that there are too many words
ending in 'ion.' "
"Perhaps," said Barraclough, gathering his file together.
"You might like to improve its literary content between
now and this evening. You're being stupid, Lambert. I'm
trying to help you. Can't you see it?"
"No/' said Lambert. "All I can see is that you're trying
to get from me a statement that you're a competent in
vestigator. You're asking me for a lie, plausible enough to
pass off as truth. I hope you won't think me impolite if I
tell you to go to the devil."
"Not a bit," said Barraclough, standing. "Not a bit. I
know exactly how you feel. I'll 'phone you this evening. In
the meantime, of course, you might care to think of Sparr-
Gamby. It would be a pity not for him he deserves ten
years on principle it would be a pity for one's faith in the
appropriateness of the wages of sin if they locked him up for
the Brangwyn Report. His mother's very upset about the
He took his hat and raincoat from the piano-stool, and
said, "Fancy anything for this afternoon?"
"You might try Graziella II for the 2.55," said Lambert.
"Make a note of it, Tom," said Barraclough. "Graziella.
Graziella. Thank you, Lambert, we'll see you later."
THROUGH THE NARROW gates leading to the main London
road, a movement of cars had already begun, outriders
of the great procession that would follow the last race, the
pebble-stirrings of the dark mass that spread around the
rails and would soon disintegrate like a rock face. The
children who had picnicked with their parents in the
autumn sun were tired and cold. If the horses ran all the
time it might be different. But the time between the time
between! The waiting about. The walking!
"I used to loathe the intervals between races/' said
Valerie to Lambert as they walked towards the parade-ring.
"But Daddy always adored them. I wanted to see photo
finishes the whole time, and all I usually saw was some
grown-up person's coat who got in my way when the horses
were going past/'
"And now?" said Lambert, looking at her eager face made
bright by the evening wind.
"Now," said Valerie, "I'm a connoisseur."
"You're not understating it. . . ?"
"Oh, no. I'm really a connoisseur. I like looking at horses'
rumps and fetlocks, making up my own mind. Hello,
Edward. You know Martin Lambert Edward Whyte-
Parker you met at the Institute dance."
"Good afternoon," said Whyte-Parker, who, in a grey
check suit and a bowler hat tipped slightly over his eyes,
had been watching with a mournful attention the first horse,
led by its groom into the ring.
"Hello," Lambert said, but Whyte-Parker went straight
from his greeting into an analysis of Ecu d'Or.
"No use at all," he said to Valerie. "Top weight. Didn't
do it last month at Harcastle with a light wind. . . .
Bissell says, 'Leave it alone/ "
"What about Camelot?" Valerie asked. "That is Camelot,
isn't it?" pointing to a tall grey that walked, tossing its head,
as the groom led it around the ring.
"No," said Whyte-Parker contemptuously, without tak
ing his eyes off the parade. "That's Estobar. Camelot's got a
small star. And besides, there's Major Bridewood and
"Of course," said Valerie, apologetically. "How stupid of
"Hello, my boy," said an elderly man in an ulster over
coat, approaching the rail. "Do any good today?"
Whyte-Parker raised his hat and said, "Good-afternoon,
sir. Not too bad. This is Valerie Fergusson, Mr. Gordon
Saltash . . . and this ..."
"My name's Lambert."
"Marvellous day," said Saltash in a firm voice. "Mar
vellous day ..."
"What's going to win the five o'clock?" Valerie asked.
There was a pause, and Whyte-Parker looked at her in
"Are you a punter, my dear?" Saltash asked.
"More or less," said Valerie.
"Well," said Saltash, "I can tell you in that case as an
owner " he bent- forward and whispered in her ear
"it's anyone's guess!" He raised his hat, and retired, laugh
"Really, Valerie," said Whyte-Parker when Saltash had
gone. "This isn't the right moment to pick up tips/'
"Oh, rot/' said Valerie, recovering her confidence. "You
really shouldn't be so deferential to race-course conven
tions. And besides" she passed to the counter-attack
"aren't you supposed to be up?"
The horses, mounted now, were beginning to pass
through the exit from the ring on their way to the top of the
course, and as their grooms led them in file through the gap,
so did the advantages of his expertness forsake Whyte-
Parker, one by one.
'Tm making it up in Long Term," he said in explana
tion. "I was going to telephone you, Valerie, and ask . . ."
"Let's get back, Valerie," said Lambert.
"Yes," said Valerie. "Good-bye, Edward."
She waved to him, as she took Lambert's arm, possessively
and ostentatiously so that Whyte-Parker might see her
allegiance, and called out, "See you when you come down."
"Valerie . . ." Whyte-Parker began again, but they were
already hurrying in the direction of the stand.
"I find that young man odious without qualification,"
"Do you, darling?" Valerie said happily. "I'm so glad.
Actually, I find him rather sweet."
Lambert paused in the stream of racegoers who were
hurrying towards the totalisators and the bookmakers in
order to place their bets.
"In that case," he said, "perhaps I shouldn't have taken
you away from his society."
"You're silly," she said. "I find everybody sweet today.
I'm terribly, terribly happy. . . . Come on, Martin. I'm so
glad Daddy couldn't come. . . . Poor old Daddy ... I
hope he's all right."
The draw for positions had already gone up on the
board, a declaration against the evening sky that the last
chance had come for the disappointed to redeem their
falsified hopes of the earlier races.
"How do we stand?" Lambert asked Valerie.
"We're thirty-two pounds up you are. I've won thirty-
He took her ungloved hand, and held it warmly enclosed
in his own. Amid the litter of tote-tickets trampled in the
turf, ice-cream cartons, rejected newspapers, they stood ex
amining their own race-cards. The clamour of the book
makers began to fade as the first of the horses cantered
collectedly up the course.
"What shall we do?" Lambert asked.
"Mirabelle!" Valerie said quickly. "Each way."
"What about Petard ten to one? If I put thirty
pounds . . ."
"Oh, Martin, you couldn't possibly. . . ."
"Why not? What do you want, Mirabelle or Petard?"
"All right Petard ten shillings each way. How much
are you putting on?"
He pushed through the group gathered around a stand
called McCormick, and said, "What are you giving for
The bookmaker looked down at his clerk who went on
writing, and said, "Nines."
"Right you are," said Lambert. "I want twenty no
make it thirty pounds on Petard."
"Petard, thirty," said the bookmaker and the clerk in
differently handed Lambert a card.
"The start of a race," said Valerie, "is always somehow
like the beginning of a sermon. Everybody becomes so
In the stands and at the rails, the faces were turned in
silence towards the starting post near the trees, scarcely
visible because of the bend in the course and the evening
mist. Lambert raised his glasses towards the blur of red,
mauve and brown, moving in a congested and languid
motion that seemed to quicken as it came within the at
traction of the crowd.
"I can see Petard/' he said to Valerie. "Second no,
third. What's the thing with blue stripes and blinkers?"
"Acolyte . . ." said Valerie. "Do let me see."
She took his binoculars, and began to focus them.
"It's Acolyte Estobar, I think it is Mirabelle Molla
and Daisy Chain, I think."
"I can't see him at all."
She handed Lambert the glasses, and he held them in his
hand. The horses were now in sight, and Valerie and Lam
bert moved down towards the rails, while the crowd began
an incantation of the horses' names. Spread out now
Mirabelle, Estobar, Molla, Acolyte, Daisy Chain, and a
straggling field they drummed past with a spattering of
earth towards the finishing post.
"Well, that's that," said Lambert. "Foam, blood and
sweat. Petard, my darling, wasn't disgraced. Not last. Last
They both burst out laughing, and continued to laugh,
leaning on the white rail with their arms around each
other's shoulders, till Valerie said, "How much did you
"Thirty pounds," said Lambert. "If I'd backed Mira
belle . . ."
"If we'd backed Mirabelle!" said Valerie. "You should
have taken my advice."
"Oh, come," said Lambert. "Post-mortem diagnosis."
"I know," said Valerie. "I didn't mean it. I'm glad you
backed Petard. I hate people like myself who always
back things both ways. It's so niggling."
"I wanted to win two hundred and fifty pounds/' said
"What would you have done with it?" Valerie asked as
they moved with the current of racegoers towards the car
park. A sudden heave of the crowd separated Lambert from
Valerie, and he found himself addressed by an angry and
"He bit him," the backer said, his face puffed in the chilly
air by beer and indignation. "I saw it. Acolyte bit him twice.
I saw it. He had his head over Jonsey's leg. Molla won
it ... three lengths he won it. . . ."
"I quite agree," said Lambert, looking over his shoulder
at Valerie, who stretched her hand towards him through
the currents of the crowd.
"He grabbed him twice," said the backer, pressed hard
between Lambert and a middle-aged, panting woman who
kept repeating resentfully, "I wish they wouldn't push. . . .
I wish they wouldn't push."
Lambert tried to make a way through the crowds that
converged from the stands and the track near the entrance to
the car-park, but a series of attendants directing the traffic
held them dammed at the embouchements. He could no
longer see Valerie among the strange, impatient and uncom
fortable faces around him, and he said to the backer, who
was now invoking him, nose to nose, "Pretty big field ..."
"That's what they did to Molla pocketed him right on
The crowd had stopped moving forward, but a second
series of arrivals who had been collecting their winnings
compressed those already near the barriers into a packed
wedge at the exit. "Move along there," a voice called
loudly from behind.
"I wish they'd stop pushing/' said the woman at Lam
bert's side. "I can't breathe. . . ."
"Too much weight," said the backer into Lambert's face.
"She give too much away. ... If Molla didn't win at
Brinton . . ."
As if held by a central pivot, the crowd began to sway, a
delicate, hardly sensible oscillation, a lulling, rhythmical
"Why don't you move along there? Move along," voices
called. "They've gone for dinner," someone else said, and
the laughter ran like a flame along a fuse, disturbing the
gentle motion. But a moment later it began again.
Lambert raised his arms clear of his hemmed-in sides,
and began again to look across the heads for Valerie. He
glimpsed her hair. She had moved through the earlier in
terstices of the crowd, and was standing near the barrier,
twisting around as if in search of him. He waved to her, but
the swaying of the crowd was now accompanied by a
chant, ' ' One two three four what are we wait
ing for " and moved her from his vision. "One two
three four . . ."
"I can't breathe," the woman said at his side. She had let
go of her umbrella Which now stood supported between her
and her neighbour by the pressure of the crowd. "I had a
stone taken out last spring. ..."
"He swerved at the start," said the backer. "Lost a lot of
ground. . . . Give over there!"
He had suddenly taken conscience of the heaving people
around him, and his indignation against Acolyte now found
"It's a bloody disgrace," he said to Lambert. "They'll
have the barriers down in a bit."
"I can't breathe," said the woman next to him.
From behind them came the sing-song, "One two
three four . . ." mingled at last with a shout, as i in a
rugby scrum, of "Heave!"
"Now," thought Lambert, "here it comes," and in the
moment that he looked for Valerie, the fulcrum of the
crowd moved forward in its entirety, changing the rhythm
of the gentle rocking into a single, tottering swing. He
'heard the barriers crack, and saw the farthest figures sink
as the crowd poured forward into the roadway that led to
the car-park. Lambert, carried far into the road by the on
rush, turned against the stream to look for Valerie.
"Are you looking for me?" she said, coming up behind
him. He didn't answer, but put his arm around her while
the police, brisk and contemptuous of the race-course cus
todians, re-formed the lanes of traffic and ended the brief
"I hope you don't think I abandoned you, darling," she
said. "I had to get through quickly because I was sur
rounded by beastly old men."
"When I saw the barriers fall . . ." Lambert said.
"No one was hurt," said Valerie. "A few people fell. It
was all the fault of those fatuous attendants. Why is it that
a peak cap makes people so stupid? Were you worried about
"Dreadfully," said Lambert.
"That's very satisfactory," said Valerie. "Very!"
Lambert was following the line of cars that led to the
"Why were you worried about me?" she asked.
"Shall I spell it out?" Lambert answered. He turned into
a side-road, leading across country to Felling.
"I'd like you to," said Valerie, leaning back comfortably
in the car. "Tell me everything."
"Everything?" Lambert repeated. "I can't tell you every
thing. I'll tell you some of the things."
He was driving slowly through the narrow, hedge-lined
"Well, to begin with," he said, "when I came to Felling,
I had only one thought in my mind. It was to see your father
an old friend of mine someone I've always liked and
admired and still do."
"And yet you seem so different from each other. What do
you like in him?" she asked.
"I like him because he has always seemed to me a com
pletely civilised person wise and tolerant not perfect in
himself not by any means fallible in his own life, but
tolerant the sort of man you go to when you have doubts
"Was that why you came to stay with us this time?"
"I think it was. I wanted to get away for a few days from
the Foreign Office, and besides ..."
She was listening to him with her gaze set rigidly in front
". . . besides," he went on, "I wanted to ask his advice."
"Did you ask his advice?"
"No," said Lambert, and his hands moved over the steer
ing wheel. "Not about that not about the matters I wanted
to ask him about. I asked his advice about other things
the Foreign Office."
She turned her face to him, and said, "Are you in frightful
trouble, Martin? I keep pushing the thought to the back of
my mind, but suddenly it comes rushing back. I don't under
stand what it's all about. . . ."
"Don't worry, Valerie/' Lambert said. Absently, he fin
gered the artificial pearls that hung over her jumper. "Don't
worry about that. It's all nonsense."
"But it isn't nonsense," she said, withdrawing from him.
"How can it be when Barraclough is constantly hanging
about and the Brangwyn Report and your resignation?
Have you done anything wrong?"
''No," he said to her. "I've done nothing wrong nothing,
"But Barraclough thinks you have. . . ."
"That may be."
"And Daddy what does he think?"
"I'm not sure."
"But . . ."
He put his hand on her mouth. "Don't ask about it any
more. I'm tired of justifying myself," he said, and added,
seeing her flush, "Don't be hurt, my darling. It's simply
that if I have to cope with it, I'll have to do it alone and at
the proper time."
"I'm sorry, Martin," Valerie said. "I want to help not
to be bothersome. Go on with what you were saying."
"Where was I?"
"You were saying about why you came to Felling, and
"About you?" said Lambert. "Yes . . . about you. I'd
almost forgotten what you looked like. At least, I remem
bered you as a child a rather pleasant, mousy child
well-brought-up and shy. ..."
"I see!" said Valerie. "Do you remember giving me a
sprig of wistaria when you were last at Felling in the
"No, I don't," Lambert answered. "Why?"
"It's not important," said Valerie. "I just wondered. Go
"I was saying I'd more or less forgotten that you existed.
And then, when I saw you when I held your hand behind
the chair rather guiltily . . ."
"Well " his voice quickened "it was a form of dis
loyalty to your father. He'd given me privileged access to his
"But it was my fault as well. ... I wanted you to hold
my hand . . . and it was wonderful. It's what I think
of most when I think about you the feel of your hand.'*
For a while Lambert drove without speaking. At last he
said, "You see, it coincided with all this other business
the Brangwyn Report, Baggott the whole lot. And in all
the misery you were there. It made everything else seem
trivial. Everything. The Foreign Office, newspapers, promo
tion, even wars. They all fell away from my thought. You
were the centre, and everything else was on the circum
"And Eleanore. For years it's been useless."
And, as if irrelevantly, he remembered her early in their
marriage at the Kembal Point-to-point when she had run
across the fields, a scarf over her hair, to the third jump, and
he had followed her with the shooting-stick. She had been
very beautiful with her pale fair hair and glowing skin,
taller than Valerie, athletic and graceful.
With the memory of Eleanore in his mind, he returned,
with a faint discontent, to Valerie on whose chin the setting
sun illuminated a small pustule. She took his left hand,
kissed it, and said, "Your hand's cold, darling," and laid it
against her breast.
"And that's all there is to it," he said.
"Pull up by those trees," Valerie said. He turned into the
shadow of a wood, and drove the car onto the grass.
"What do you mean," she asked, "when you say, 'That's
all there is to it'?"
"I mean," he answered, "that I'm leaving tomorrow. I'm
going to France."
"And me?" she asked quickly. He kissed her eyes and her
"You . . ." he began.
"Yes, me," she said. "What about me?"
"I'll be back next April," he said.
"Martin," she said. "Let me come with you."
"It's impossible . . . absolutely impossible."
"Well, let me follow you next month. Please, Martin
please. I'd do anything really I would. I'd be a domestic
servant. I'd do anything."
A car with headlights full on swept through the dusk and
lit up her tense face.
"Please, Martin . . ." she said, and he could feel the
rapid beat of heart against his palm.
He answered, "It's impossible, Valerie quite impossible.
I've been thinking about it I have many difficulties too
many. . . . The Foreign Office and your father my wife
it's quite impossible."
"But Martin my sweet, silly darling just because of the
Foreign Office and my father and your wife and all the
miseries to come the atom bomb and everything isn't
that a perfect reason for going away and having some
happiness? Isn't that reasonable?"
"Not reasonable," said Lambert. "Wonderful without
"And why did yon want to win two hundred and fifty
Lambert put his fingers over her ears and through her
"Because," he said, "I had a vague hope."
"There!" she said triumphantly. "You do want me to
come. . . . Darling Martin, I promise I won't be a nui
sance. I've got a hundred and thirty pounds of my own. It'll
last for ages. Next month . . . I'll make up some story or
other. I'll make Daddy let me go on a course or something.
Will you, Martin?"
He kissed her mouth, and she said, "Let's not go back yet.
Have you ever been to Versailles?"
"What's it like?"
"Big rambling dusty."
"Will you take me there?* '
"Yes if you like."
"It's a cemetery."
"I know. I want to see Chopin's grave. . . . And
Armenonville will you take me to dance there?"
"Not in winter. In the summer . . ."
"That will do. But you will walk with me in the
"I'm feeling wonderfully sleepy and tired."
She took his arm, and pressed her face in his shoulder,
and slowly, like that, they drove till the postern-light of the
house came into sight.
"Wake up, Valerie," he said. "We're home."
"I'm awake," she said. "Martin, I didn't tell you this
morning. Eleanore 'phoned."
"When?" Lambert asked sharply.
"Did she leave any message?"
"And no address."
"No. Please don't be angry."
He took the steering wheel with both hands, and said,
"I wish you'd told me earlier."
Later, when they met in the hall, Valerie said, "There's
something else, Martin."
"What is it?" he asked, contrite at her doleful expression.
"Don't worry about the telephone call. She'll ring again."
"It isn't that," Valerie said, and began to speak more
quickly. "I meant to tell you there was a letter for
you. . . ."
"All right," he said, "give it to me."
"I opened it," she said.
He looked at her in amazement.
"I read it," she said, and, handing him the thin, wrinkled
letter, ran past him upstairs.
"YOUR FRIEND BARRACLOUGH ..." Fergusson said, and his
glance drifted away like an empty boat on a tide. Lambert,
waiting for the sentence to end, watched his face in the
shadow of the library lamp. But Fergusson had settled into
the brooding contemplation of a private interest from which
Lambert hesitated to divert him.
"Yes," said Fergusson, returning to the conversation, "I
find nowadays that the expectation of pleasure usually dis
turbs my heart. The result is that I'm only fit for the most
boring occasions. I was sorry I couldn't join you this after
"We were sorry, too," said Lambert. "Except at the end.
There was an absolute chaos at the car-park."
"So I hear," said Fergusson, pouring a glass of sherry for
Lambert. "So I hear. Barraclough ... He was here about
an hour ago."
"He must have driven pretty fast."
"Oh, well," said Fergusson, casually, "he had no reason
to dawdle. He said he'd call again. And by the way, Martin,"
Fergusson rose and leaned against the fireplace, "he asked
me to thank you for Graziella II. He made a killing
something like two pounds three. . . ."
Lambert drank his sherry, and said, "You see how close
our friendship's become. We'll soon be on Christian name
He felt the crisp paper of Eleanore's letter in his pocket,
and wanted, in the hiatus of Fergusson's thought and speech,
to re-read the small, neat handwriting as he had already
done twice since his return.". . . say, one hundred pounds,
it would be a great help." And he determined, as soon as he
reached London, to go to his bank and arrange for the sale
of two hundred pounds' worth of Government stock that he
had kept in reserve. "I am feeling so much better. I don't
see anyone, and don't want to." Lambert smiled to himself
and wondered for how long. ". . . And if I end this letter
by saying that I love you . . ."
He dismissed the words from his mind, as he heard Fer-
gusson say, "He already calls you Martin behind your
"Well, I'd return his courtesy if I knew his first name.
But there are some people who never have first names.
Barraclough's one of them, I suspect."
Fergusson put his glass down, still half-full, and said,
"Let's go in to dinner."
"What about Valerie?"
Fergusson, who was already walking towards the library
door, stopped and said, "Valerie has a headache. She won't
be coming down. You see, Martin, there are one or two
matters I want to talk to you about. I've already spoken to
Valerie, and I was anxious for us . . ." His voice faded,
and he said, "At any rate, let's have dinner."
"I don't think so," said Lambert, returning to his chair.
"I'd much prefer to know now what you want to talk
"Very well," said Fergusson, "I can tell you very briefly."
And the thought that Valerie, in taking the letter, had
merely anticipated some presumptuous lecture by her
father, stirred in Lambert a double resentment. ". . . how
it was our love and happiness came to ruin. . . ." Those
were private words that only he and Eleanore could under
stand. And he tightened his grip on the letter in shame that
once he had confided his unhappiness about Eleanore to
Fergusson, and in anger that the words had lain naked
under a stranger's curiosity.
Fergusson took a pile of books from a chair, and dropped
them on the floor. Then, settling himself into the seat,
"I am going to speak plainly to you, Martin. If I am mis
taken in my judgments, I have no doubt you will tell me.
And if I wound you by anything that is a misjudgment, I
hope you'll forgive me."
He spoke without looking at Lambert.
"You see, Martin/' he said, "for the last few days I've
been anxious for you and for myself."
"You need have no anxiety for yourself," Lambert inter
posed quickly. "I've told Barraclough . . . I've explained
to him that this is the first time I've been here for
years. . . ."
"My dear fellow," said Fergusson, waving the explanation
away, "that's not it at all. Not at all. I'm not thinking of
that. When I say 'myself,' I mean that I am anxious " he
spoke more slowly now "anxious about Valerie. She's
a child still. She's a child. A rather uninformed and in
genuous child. All this rather sophisticated excitement
it isn't good for her. You understand, Martin, don't you?"
"Not really," said Lambert, looking straight at Fergus-
son, who was sitting with his chin sunk on his chest. "I can't
think of Valerie in those terms they don't define her at all.
She's eighteen. You've described someone in a gym-slip."
("Please, Martin, let me come home . . ." It was too late.
Much too late to start again.)
"That wasn't my intention," said Fergusson. "Perhaps I
should have been more exact. I was telling you, Martin,
somewhat euphemistically, that Valerie is a great deal
younger than you are, that she is, in fact, on the threshold of
her adult life and that you "
"Well?" said Lambert.
"How old are you?" Fergusson asked. "Thirty-eight,
"Thirty-nine," Fergusson repeated. "Thirty-nine. Valerie
was born in the year you left Cambridge. Does that explain
my meaning to you?"
Lambert didn't answer.
"She's been talking to me in the last day or two," said
Fergusson, "about going to France."
He paused, and Lambert watched him forming his next
"She is very eager to go excessively eager to go," said
Fergusson. "Can you explain her urgency?"
"I don't know," said Lambert. "I can only guess. And I
imagine . . ."
"Never mind," said Fergusson. "I think you have taken
my point. You're leaving tomorrow, Martin, and you've got
a lot to disturb you."
With a slight gasp, he heaved himself from his chair.
"But what I want to convey to you is this. I am very
concerned that Valerie should be happy, and free from
unnecessary torments. When I saw her tonight, she appeared
to have been weeping. ... If her mother were alive, it
would be different. As it is, the responsibility is mine.
There's nothing I wouldn't do to keep her from coming to
harm. Absolutely nothing. You understand that?"
"Yes," said Lambert. "I understand that perfectly."
"In that case," said Fergusson, "I think we can go in and
He led the way across the hall, humming a tuneless im
When Lambert finished packing his suitcase, he looked in
the drawer for his passport, but, not finding it there, de
cided that he must have left it in the jacket of his other suit,
and that early next morning, he could repack the case that
now gaped, open and inflated, on the floor. If he arrived in
London before one o'clock he would have time to go to
the bank, buy his air-ticket, and take the evening aeroplane
to Paris. At worst, should he not get a seat, he could take the
night ferry. Once he had reached Paris, he would be able to
disengage himself from Barraclough, the intrusive ques
tions, the obsessive names and be able to consider calmly
and without hurry what he should do next.
He would tell no one that he had arrived. Instead of
staying at the Castiglione as he usually did when in Paris,
he would go immediately to the Boudin in the Boulevard
Raspail, and there in privacy, he would wait. He wasn't
sure about his letters. He could arrange later for them to be
forwarded. With fifty pounds' worth of currency, he could
live in a small hotel for several weeks. A room, a light lunch,
a moderate dinner. Lambert remembered a few days that
he had spent in Paris at the end of the war, when he had felt
free as he had not felt since he had been an undergraduate.
Without duties to anyone, an individual, released from
orders. And the thought of the Boudin with its narrow en
trance hall, the cashier in black behind the counter, the
porter in the foreground of his board of thirty keys, and the
lift, big enough for two people and valises, that never broke
down, was like the expectation of a holiday.
After, say, three days, he would telephone Osborne and
Carter-Brown at the Embassy. It depended, of course, on
what the P.M. said, but by then the whole affair might have
Lambert got into bed, and began to read for the third
time the Guardian's leading article on the Brangwyn
"No one," it said, "would be more relieved than the
Prime Minister if he could assure the nation that the Re
port, published so inopportunely for Western collaboration
and our hopes for the Rome Conference, is a forgery. Yet,
if as the authority of Le Monde Populaire suggests, the Re
port is an authentic document, then despite the deplorable
circumstances of its arrival in the hands of the French press,
the Prime Minister has a twofold duty to assure Parlia
ment that Britain does not intend a disengagement from her
old and steadfast ally, and, of equal importance to our
safety, that those guilty of a damaging betrayal should be
sought out and punished."
Lambert put the paper down and lit a cigarette. Brang
wyn had delivered the paper. Brangwyn had thought out the
whole idea. Brangwyn was responsible for the Conference's
failure even to begin. From the first it was what he had
wanted, and Padley had known it, but he hadn't been strong
enough to resist him. And Baggott, Barraclough, the officials
and the policemen they didn't care whose idea it was. All
they wanted was a capture Sparr-Gamby, himself, anyone.
"But you did give Augier the report?" Barraclough had
said. And he had answered, "Yes."
But he would wait. He would get a job in Paris. Per
haps he might write under a pseudonym, and become the
Paris correspondent of some London newspaper. With care
Delavigne was always pressing him to stay at his house in
Touraine he might manage after all, he knew large
numbers of people who were always offering him hospitality
Vaudrin, Chambord, Priedieu, de la Motte, and Lebras-
seur he might manage to last out three or four months,
even without a job. Eleanore would have to know. He
couldn't shelter her from it any longer.
And Valerie. Valerie.
The house had fallen into silence, except for an oc
casional creak of the furniture and joists. "It's a very old
house," Valerie told him in the garden years ago. "We used
to have lots of mice, but one night we set traps for them.
The whole place rattled like castanets. They're gone now."
And he thought of Eleanore, looking with him over
the balustrade of the skating rink at the foot of the sky
scraper of Rockefeller Plaza. The flags were blowing in the
wind, and the skaters, wrapped against the cool autumn
air, were circling on the pale-blue ice in time to a waltz.
He had put his arm around her shoulders, and her face was
laid close against his.
"I like this," he said. "It's very gay."
And she said,
"It's so fantastic. It's like a mother suckling a child in the
middle of a battlefield."
He had laughed, but her face was grave, and a few seconds
later they became tired of the chain of skaters and walked
back to their hotel on East Forty-eighth Street. That was
when they were on their way home from Chicago.
Not long afterwards, he had come to Felling to see Fergus-
son. In those days, Valerie was still a child, her features
indeterminate and her general appearance artless, subdued
by her father's presence Into a prim timidity.
Smoking in the darkness, Lambert remembered how
when Fergusson had left them together, the first time, she
had begun to tell him about Miss Fretts and Convocation
Day. ("Don't let the purser get you," Walker said to him
and Eleanore at the crowded cocktail party in their cabin
before they sailed. "Boy, he'll bore the pants off you!") She
had spoken at length about Miss Fretts and Convocation,
and his mind had played on other matters, till in relief he
had invited her to walk in the garden. After that, he had
forgotten her. She had merged with the handshakes of his
work. When he met her again, it was as if he were meeting
someone whom he had never seen before; nor could Fer-
gusson's endeavour to relate her to the short schoolgirl who
had hurried at his side, talking rapidly, have any validity.
Idly, and without deliberation, he had allowed his hand
to trail close to hers, and her fingers had touched and
crooked in his, as if it were proper that it should be so, and
as if the understanding were complete that it should be
surreptitious; and their hands had begun, hidden from the
sight of Fergusson, their tentative conversation, an anti-
phon, swelling in secret, their palms, moist and earnest,
moving in a slow rotation. Whether it was right or wrong,
good or bad, that was how it had begun. She was no longer
a child, but a woman, listening to Fergus-son's threnody, his
lament over life.
"He'll bore the pants off you," a voice intervened in
Lambert's drowning mind, and feeling the cigarette end
burning his finger, he stubbed it out in the ashtray.
And if she wanted to leave this atmosphere of pessimism
and decay, to escape from Fergusson's regrets and exchange
them for her own satisfactions! Lambert remembered her
face and her mouth and her hands, the Boudin, and the
window on the Boulevard Raspail, the occasional voices in
the middle of the night and the long looking-glass reflecting
the street-lamps. After he had been there two or three days,
she would meet him in the lounge, and they would go to his
room, and he would help her to take off her coat, facing her,
seeing behind her shoulder the reflection of her neck and
the two strands of hair in the looking-glass. Far away from
Barraclough and Fergusson and the Foreign Office and
Eleanore, alone and liberated, they would lie awake in the
darkness, while he watched the outline of her young face
against the window, with hope in the days to come.
The stench of the burning aeroplance came back to him,
and he turned his face into the pillow, trying to remember
Valerie, but instead the image of Eleanore returned to his
mind. During the war, on embarkation leave, he had taken
Eleanore from London to spend the last night in a small
Surrey hotel. Their bedroom faced north, and throughout
the early hours they had lain listening to the tremble of
guns around London, and watched the quivering lights on
Eleanore said to him, "I'm terribly afraid of dying
terribly. I sometimes stay awake for hours thinking about
being nothing. I find it so horrible to think of being
nothing. . . ."
Close to the bed, his uniform slouched over a chair, and
he could see the buttons glittering in the gun-flashes.
"And sometimes/' she went on, talking with her mouth
on his lip, "I'm afraid to shut my eyes, because I'm afraid
that if I shut them I won't wake up again. But when I'm
with you, I'm never afraid of anything. I feel so safe and
secure, and I don't even mind dying."
"You must go to sleep," he had said. The mutter of
aeroplanes overhead was fading, and the sky had become
"I don't want to sleep," she answered. "I want to be
awake all night with you, and be conscious of you every
second. Please tell me, darling, you will write to me
often. . . ."
"Very often. . . ."
"As often as I can/ 1
"And you won't fall in love with some Italian or Arab
or A.T.S. girl. Promise!"
Soon afterwards, she fell asleep, and he watched her pro
file against the window for hours till the day broke, and he
too slept. When they awoke, the sun was already warm, and
they could hear a convoy that was moving away from its
assembly point under the pine trees.
"Oh, darling/' Eleanore said, "it's tomorrow morning/*
And added quickly, "I'm not going to cry/'
"In that case," Lambert answered, "I'll ring for break
And she had said, "Not yet."
He thought of the faces in silhouette against the sky, and
that if his happiness with Eleanore after the war had merely
been intervals in misery, so too their miseries had been in
tervals in happiness. At Megve, Dijon, Rome those were
long, relaxed months of delight when they had seemed
able to forgive each other their accumulation of harm and to
expunge their bitterness. But at other times, like a germ
that works in the blood till it bursts into a high fever, their
memory exploded into bitter, unrestrained reproach.
"The leaves are falling in the Pincio Gardens . . ."
Eleanore had written. They sat in the open air, looking at
the dancers in the Casino, and afterwards, in the dusk, they
walked through the gardens past the alley-way of peeling
statues to the children's fountain by the cypress trees. They
had watched a small boy probing the water with a stick,
under the screaming admonitions of his mother from a
"Have you caught any fish?" Eleanore asked the boy "in
Italian. But the child didn't answer, and when she repeated
her question, he ran terrified to his mother. They took a
horse-drawn cab, and drove back in silence to their hoteL
"You too might have had some part in the unhappiness
we shared . . ." she had written. Perhaps she was right.
"Par dessus les etoiles, par dessus les arbres . . /' Nicholas:
Nicholas would never come back. And Eleanore in nurs
ing homes and hotels: Awake at night, afraid of being
nothing: And of Nicholas being nothing. ". . . par dessus
les arbres, qu'y a-t-ilf Qu'y a-t-il?"
"And if I end this letter by saying I love you . . ."
They had loved each other, and been separated by wars
and hotels and duties. He heard Eleanore's voice in his
mind, and wished he had spoken to her on the telephone.
And at that moment, Valerie seemed an officious stranger
who had interfered without understanding.
In the morning. In the morning when he had got rid of
Barraclough, he would try and telephone Eleanore. The
Regina. Eleanore Lambert. The Regina,
He stepped from the lift and walked into the cylinder.
Nicholas sat there smiling. "Where's the exit, Nicky?' 7 he
asked. Someone was rattling at a locked door. "It's all
right/' said Eleanore. "It's a dream. They're trying to get
In his sleep, Lambert struggled to call her name, groaned
and awoke, drenched in sweat and panting. The sadness of
Eleanore's face; Nicholas, smiling and dead. And outside
the door an amorphous horror trying to get in. Lambert
lay unmoving till his rapid heart-beat had become more
tranquil. A few seconds later, he heard a light knock at the
door. Again his heart began to beat faster as if the dream
were transposed into reality.
"Who's there?" he asked.
The handle turned slowly, and the door opened inch by
"It's me, Valerie. I heard you call out," Valerie said in a
whisper from the half-open door. "Is anything wrong?"
Lambert sat up, and said, "No. There's nothing wrong."
"Would you like anything a glass of water?"
"No. Come in and shut the door."
Lambert switched on the light, and she stood, barefoot, in
the blue dressing gown.
"Come here, Valerie," he said. "Sit on the bed. I want to
talk to you."
Seeing that he didn't smile, she went and sat on his bed,
and said, "Well?"
Then she touched his damp forehead with her fingers,
and said again, "Is anything wrong?"
"No," he repeated, "there's nothing wrong. I had a bad
dream. Valerie, you know I'm leaving tomorrow."
"What time are you going?"
She had begun to shiver, and he took her hand in his.
"I'm leaving early. After breakfast."
"And me what about me?"
"I'll write to you later on."
"But . . . Are you still angry with me about the let
ter ... about the 'phone call?"
"No. I'm not angry not any more."
"You see, I wanted to help you to keep you away from
anything that might worry you. I knew that you already
had so much to make you anxious and unhappy. Please,
Martin I've been so miserable the whole evening. I
haven't slept at all not at all."
Lambert put his hand on her forearm in the sleeve of her
dressing gown, and looked at her tormented face.
"Don't think about it any more, my darling," he said.
"It's all over now. . . . Thank you thank you very much
for trying to help me."
"Please don't be ironic. . . ."
"I'm not ironic. I mean it very sincerely. One day, when
I remember you and Felling, I will remember most of all,
my darling Valerie, that you 'tried to help me."
"And can't I really help you? I so much want to give you
He drew her face down to the pillow, and examined it
"I can see one of your eyes," she said. "Your right eye."
And he said, "You look very young. And so very pretty."
"I am very young," she answered solemnly. "But not very
"As young as when I first saw you."
"I love you," she said. "I think of you all the time, and
love you. I'll always love you. You think that because I'm
so young I can't feel love . . ."
"No. I don't think that."
". . . or that it's not real love. It's real to me. Terribly
real, and acute."
He kissed the side of her mouth and said, "I wonder if
in a year's time . . ."
"In a year's time and ten years' time and . . . Oh,
Martin. You will meet me in Paris. Please, Martin, please!"
"It's impossible," he said, raising her up. "It's im
"But you promised ..."
"It was a phantasy a daydream. You mustn't leave your
father. Not yet. He was absolutely right when he spoke to
me this evening. ..."
"But you said . . ."
"I know. ... I was wrong."
She was sitting upright looking at him with affronted
"How can you speak like that?" she asked him. "It was
you who told me I was wasting my life here. You who said
that Daddy had no right . . . How can you change so
"I haven't changed/' he said, propping himself on his
elbow. "I haven't changed at all. But all of a sudden I know
that I must acquiesce in reality."
"I don't know what you mean/' she said. Her hand that
he had taken in his had become limp and cold, and she
looked across him at the wall.
"I mean/' said Lambert, "that I bring with me too many
burdens, too many uncertainties. You mustn't begin your
adult life in a dingy French hotel with a married man
who is running away from his troubles."
"But if we love each other ..." she said, and he was
"Doesn't that mean anything?" she asked. "You said . . ."
Her voice faded away, and he felt her palm in his, inert and
"Good-night," he said. "My dear, darling Valerie."
She got up from the bed, and walked slowly in her bare
feet to the door. She opened it cautiously, and it squeaked
a little. Then she turned, her eyes welling with tears, and
said in a loud whisper, "Good-night, Martin," and ran down
the passage to her room.
"THERE'S TWO MEN to see you," said Margaret, switching
on the light, and putting the cup of tea at the side of the
bed. She closed the windows, and peered out at the mist-
covered fields. "It's nasty," she said. "Do you want the fire
"What's the time, Margaret?" Lambert muttered, open
ing his eyes slowly and looking at the halo of light thrown
by the lamp on the ceiling, and from there to the bowl of
dahlias that Valerie had put on his dressing table the day
"It's ten past seven," she said. "They said you wasn't
to hurry. What shall I tell them?"
Lambert pulled himself up in the bed, and rested his
face in his hands for a few seconds before answering her.
"Tell them to wait in the library," he said. "What are
they doing now?"
"All right, thank you, Margaret. I'm sorry they disturbed
"I'm always up at quarter to seven," she said proudly.
"Wouldn't know what to do if I laid in after that."
As soon as she had left the room, Lambert turned off the
light and went to the window. In front of a black car parked
diagonally between his own car and the gate, Barraclough,
wearing an overcoat and scarf, and the shorthand-writer,
bareheaded and coatless, were walking up and down in
conversation. Their voices were lowered and muted by the
window-glass, and they moved discreetly over the crunching
gravel as if they were reluctant to disturb the household.
Lambert heard the door open and Barraclough paused;
with his breath turning to vapour in the cold air, he spoke
to the shorthand-writer who climbed into the black car
and reversed it till it completely blocked the gateway. Then
he saw Barraclough remove his hat, and lead the way into
Lambert put on his dressing gown, and drank the luke
warm tea. Immediately, it regurgitated in a sour vomit that
he swallowed in disgust, and he stretched himself flat on his
face, listened to the waking house, the whine of the vacuum
cleaner and Barraclough's voice from below, till the nausea
had receded and the sudden sweat had begun to dry.
Honour the dead. Say prayers in the Abbey. March in
procession with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the
Opposition and the Lord Chancellor. Say nothing to dim
the glory of the great man who died performing his duty.
And if anyone said Brangwyn was misguided or in error,
So now he would go to London with Barraclough. And
then they would charge him under the Act of 1911, the
Official Secrets Act, that existed like death for other people.
For the camper on the road to Le Lavandou, who began the
day in hope, and ended it, a cadaver drained of blood,
gawked at by the passers-by. Again the surge of nausea, and
Lambert stuffed his hand against his mouth. The vomit
squirted in thin yellow streams between his fingers.
The mumble of Barraclough's voice continued, inter
rupted every now and again, by laughter.
"Oh, for God's sake shut upl" Lambert said aloud. "Shut
up!" He rose decisively from the bed and washing in the
basin, trying to remove the lingering stench of his sickness.
The cold water dribbled against his face, and he dried him
self roughly. As he did so, he glanced at the open suitcase,
and remembered that somewhere inside it, among his suits
and shirts, was his passport.
With his passport, he felt safe. There was still no charge
against him. They couldn't take his passport away without
a charge. "We, Andrew Brangwyn . . ." We, Andrew
Brangwyn, still requested and required everyone to let him
pass without let or hindrance. Lambert recalled that he had
put the passport in the breast-pocket of his dark suit which
now lay at the bottom of the case, and he pushed his hand
down the side, fumbling in the folds of cloth for the hard,
flat surface. His fingers felt gently between the layers. They
touched a forgotten handkerchief in an inside pocket, the
sole of a shoe that for a moment he mistook for a cardboard
cover, and a Penguin novel. Irritated, he began to take the
garments from the suitcase, one by one the crumpled
shirts, the pullover and the two suits that he had packed so
neatly. He unfolded them, felt in the pockets, and threw the
suits onto the arm-chair. The passport wasn't there.
He stood still, wondering where else he might have left
it; and then he searched the room systematically first the
pockets of his dressing gown, then the suit he was about to
wear, his coat on the peg behind the wall, the wardrobe,
and, pulling them out with increasing violence, the drawers
of the dressing table. Except for a lining of brown paper,
they were empty and smelt of dust.
Lambert finished drying his razor blade before he turned
to face Barraclough who came quietly into the room.
"Don't you knock?" he asked him.
"I did," said Barraclough. "You said, 'Come in/ You've
forgotten. When will you be ready to leave?"
" Where are we going?" Lambert asked.
"We have to be at the War Office by half past two. It's
Lambert drew on a white shirt which he had laid out on
the bed, and said, "What about my car?"
"I've arranged for it to be garaged," said Barraclough.
"Will I be back by tomorrow?"
"I shouldn't think so," said Barraclough.
"I see," said Lambert, and he chose a grey tie from the
jumble of the clothes on the arm-chair.
Barraclough sat on the bed, smoking his pipe, and watch
ing Lambert dress.
"Will you be ready in half an hour?" he asked.
Lambert stopped in the middle of knotting his tie, and
said, "Look here, Barraclough. I'd like to put through a
call to Italy before we go to my wife. Is that all right?"
Barraclough covered the bowl of his pipe with a box of
matches to help it draw, and sucked for a few seconds be
"Well that's all right old man so long as you don't
mind me listening."
"You can listen as much as you like. . . ."
"And as long," Barraclough added, "as you're not think
ing of joining her in Italy in the near future."
"As far as that's concerned," Lambert said, continuing to
dress, "you can mind your own damn business."
"Well/' said Barraclough deprecatingly. "It's all aca
demic. You haven't got your passport."
"How do you know?" Lambert asked. He had started to
repack his suitcase, and, for a fraction of a second, he felt
a stir of nausea again.
"You haven't got your passport/' said Barraclough, "for
the very straightforward reason that I've got it."
"You've got it," said Lambert, advancing towards him.
Barraclough put out his hand, wardingly.
"Now then, Lambert," he said. "Don't be silly. YouVe
been doing very well so far."
"What right . . ." Lambert began.
"None," said Barraclough. "If you want to, you can fight
that out later. There'll be places for you to do it. But I
think you ought to know . . ."
He paused and reflected.
". . . You ought to know," he went on, "that Fergusson
who after all is the master of the house your host
Fergusson invited me into your room his room."
"Fergusson gave you my passport?"
"No, no," said Barraclough, shaking his head in negation.
"Fergusson wouldn't do anything so ungentlemanly. What
ever you may think of him, he is a man of breeding. . . .
Oh no, all that Fergusson did was telephone me yesterday
to say that you were leaving that you were planning to go
"And . . . ?"
"And . . . well, I obtained some further instructions
from London, and called on you in your absence. . . .
Thanks awfully, by the way for Graziella. We did very
nicely. I wish I could have stayed till the end."
Lambert clicked the lock of his suitcase into position,
and said, "And then, I suppose, you came here and Fergus-
son showed you to my room, and you and he ferreted
through my pockets."
"No, really," said Barraclough in protest. "You mustn't
be so hard on Fergusson. He didn't ferret. I did. He merely
gave me some general guidance. Don't look so disgusted, my
"I'm . . . I don't know . . ." said Lambert. "I somehow
can't imagine Fergusson telephoning you furtively lead
ing you up the stairs standing guard while you searched
watching you go through my clothes. It's unlike him."
"We're all unlike ourselves at certain moments," said
Barraclough. "In times of crisis we either rise above, or fall
below, ourselves. And poor old Fergusson, you'll agree,
was faced with a crisis. You do agree, don't you?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"I think you do," said Barraclough standing. "You re
member Othello" his voice became rhetorical " 'Most
potent, grave, and reverend signiors . . . that I have ta'en
away this old man's daughter, it is most true.' See what I
mean now? It was very hard for Fergusson to do what he
did. Very hard indeed. But even loyalties have a certain
order of priority fortunately!"
"You've made it too simple," said Lambert.
"I have to deal with things as they are. The old man
thought you were going off with his daughter. Not an un
usual situation. He wanted to stop it. And did so."
"You've made it too simple," said Lambert again. "Much
too simple." And the memory of Valerie sank away from
"At any rate," said Barraclough. "All that's a side-show
as far as I'm concerned. I'd like to leave in half an hour.
What number do you want?"
Lambert took the letter from his pocket, and read out
Eleanore's telephone number to Barraclough.
"I'll get it for you," said Barraclough. "And see that you
have some breakfast. We've got a long day, old chap."
Valerie in her room listened to the unfamiliar voices
from downstairs. They were subdued and reticent, alien
like the long black car that straddled the drive. In the
window at the angle of the house, she could see Margaret
and the char-woman staring out over Caz's shoulder, their
faces eager and inquisitive and condoling. And she remem
bered that it had been like that when her mother died. All
one day there had been arrivals and departures. The doctors
who had tilted her chin. The strange men in dark clothes.
The visitors. And then, after a week, when it was all over,
the black cars. She hadn't really understood what was going
on. Her father had been specially kind and forbearing
during the time her mother was dying, and encouraged her
to go to gymkhanas. Even the day of her death had seemed
merely like an interruption in the household's routine. It
was only much later when she remembered her mother and
the leaden day of her funeral that she lay on her bed in
remorse and wept inconsolably for the tenderness that was
irrevocably gone and for the lost occasions of love.
That's how it was now. The car was there, and the house
seemed full of people performing some horrid ceremony.
The days had gone as if they hadn't happened, as if she
hadn't longed and waited for Lambert's coming, as if he
hadn't taken her hand in that poignant evening that now
seemed infinitely far away, as if he hadn't held her and
kissed her and filled her with a promise of liberty and
happiness remote from Felling.
And she was still unsure, just as she had been unsure the
very first evening when his lingers had touched hers be
neath the book and remained there. He was going away,
and she was unsure of everything, except that she would
always love him. Always, always, always. She began to cry
again, but she wiped her eyes hurriedly with the back of
her hand. She didn't want her father to see she'd been cry
ing. He'd already said enough cutting and wounding things.
"If you cry any more," he said, "they'll think you've taken
to drink." And as she looked at her inflamed nose and
swollen eyelids, she agreed.
But she hated her father. Of that she was certain. She'd
never forgive him never, for destroying so brutally the
wonderful prospect. The Tuileries. The banks of the
Seine. The bateaux mouches. The mother-of-pearl light. A
St. Blaise a la zuecca. No more of that. Only Felling. The
journey they'd planned. Walking hand-in-hand along the
quais. All over. And all because of her father who would sit
opposite her at dinner for ever. For ever and ever. The
face. Red, angry and tufted.
And as she thought of him, she said to herself, "Poor
Daddy! Poor darling Daddy!" And all her hatred dwindled
away because he was old and wouldn't live very much longer
and the time would come when she would miss him and the
face wouldn't be there at all for her to complain about; and
because he meant everything for the best, and loved her.
There were other matters, too, that she didn't under
Valerie put on her glasses, and powdered her face.
The Brangwyn Report. He would explain all that. Her
father had used the word "treason," but that was silly.
Treason had something to do with the Tower of London
and impeachment. She wondered if she'd see him again.
Perhaps in London or somewhere.
Valerie pulled out her museum drawer and was about to
close it again, but the photograph of Lambert and his wife
at Megeve caught her attention. Delicately, she took out the
press cuttings and spread them over her dressing table.
Somebody was walking in the corridor, and, in a sudden
alarm, Valerie went to the door and locked it. Then she
picked up the sprig of wistaria and laid it at the bottom of
the photograph like flowers on the base of a shrine.
She propped her face in her hands and began a long con
templation of Lambert and his wife surrounded by their
friends with the gleaming mountain behind them. She
looked from Lambert to Eleanore and said to herself, "She's
very pretty.'* "She's very pretty," she repeated aloud. And
the thought that Eleanore was pretty made everything much
worse. Wiping her eyes with her hand, she carefully restored
the newspaper-cuttings, the photograph and the wistaria to
her museum. Then she took the race-card with Lambert's
pencilled notes, and added it to the collection.
"Hello, hello, Martin darling I'm so glad . . ."
Eleanore's voice came clearly over the continental line,
happy and alert. "What a wonderful surprise! I was so fed
up when I missed you. I've been trying to get you all over
the place. Hello . . . Martin?"
The line had faded in a crackling of fragmented con
sonants and vowels.
"Hello," he called. "Hello."
Her voice undulated, strengthening and weakening, but
once more intelligible.
"Can you hear me?" she asked.
"I said I was trying to get you all over the place."
"I've been driving between here and London."
"I've been going up and down to London. Can't you
"Yes, it's better now. Did you get my letter? Yes, you
must have. There was some rather unhelpful person when
I got through. . . . Oh Martin, it's so wonderful to hear
your voice. Please stop mel I can't stop talking."
In his arm-chair, with Barraclough and the shorthand-
writer facing him, Lambert leaned back with his eyes closed,
indifferent to their presence.
"I'm so glad I managed to reach you," he said. "I was
afraid I might miss you . . ... that we'd miss each other
again. Are you well?"
"Wonderfully well. Don't I sound it? I went swimming
again yesterday at Ostia!"
It was like an old defiance. I went to the Burroughs! I
went to the ball-game with Geoffrey! I went to the Phil
harmonic with X and Y and Z! I went to Ed's with the
crowd! Lambert recalled her expression, her eyes looking
directly and unflinchingly at him in a form of candour
that, like a decollete, revealed the provocation.
He waited for her to continue.
"Do you know whom I went with?" she said.
"No," he answered and, resenting it, felt the tightening
pang of jealousy.
"No one," she said, and her voice was exhilarated. "No
one. Not a soul. I don't see anyone, and don't want to.
Martin. . . ?"
"I want to ask you something . . . something terribly
"What is it?"
A carillon of bells interrupted her reply. Through their
insistent jangle, he heard her say, "Wait a second, dearest.
Don't go away. I'm going to shut the window."
She returned to the telephone and said, "It's San
"The church . . . Martin?"
"When can I come home?"
"Well . . ." Lambert changed the position of the re
ceiver, and said, "At this moment, Eleanore, I'm talking
to you under difficulties."
"In what way?"
He heard her voice tremble as if in expectation of some
"I'm having some trouble at the F.O. . . . It's very
serious. I have to go back to London this morning. After
that I simply don't know . . ."
"I'm sorry, darling. Terribly sorry. Is it very bad? Is
it ... ?"
"No/' he interrupted her. "Don't ask me any questions,
Eleanore. I'm in serious trouble . . . it's to do with the
Brangwyn Report. You must stay in Rome. I'll try and
keep in touch. Eleanore ..."
He could hear her voice, ebullient a moment ago and now
"Eleanore. . . . Tell me about yourself. Are you sleep
"Oh, yes, darling. I do. I wake early in the morning at
about six. But otherwise . . . Tell me more about your
self, Martin. Darling Martin, I do so yearn to see you. . . ."
"And your nightmares . . . ?"
"They've all gone. Except the night I telephoned you and
you weren't there. I was terrified in case something . . ."
The line went dead for a second, and he only heard the
last word "you."
"And what about Courcin?"
"Please, darling . . . please, please, believe me. ... It
all belongs to something that had no real part in me.
Nothing at all. Please, Martin, let me come home. I won't
be a nuisance. I promise."
Lambert held the telephone in his hand without replying,
and she said, "Darling! Are you there, darling? I can't hear
"You see, Eleanore," and Lambert visualised her face,
her pale hair and her short straight nose and her full mouth,
"I don't want to involve you/'
"But I am involved/' she said. "I'll always be involved in
you. Always. . . . Whatever happens. Martin . . /'
"Yes, my darling?"
Her voice had taken decision. "When will you be in
"I'll be at the War Office this afternoon."
"In that case, I'll be home by the end of the week."
"But Eleanore . . /'
"Did you send me the money?"
"I'm arranging it today through the bank."
"Good." Her voice was full of excitement and delight.
"Martin," she said. "Martin."
"Nothing," she said. "I haven't seen you for such a long
time. I just like saying your name."
"We'd better get moving," said the shorthand-writer.
"I'll get my bag," said Lambert.
"Don't you trouble," said Barraclough. "Tom's seen to
In the hall, Lambert took his coat from the stand, and said
to Barraclough, "I'd like to say good-bye to the Fergussons."
"They're outside," said Barraclough. "They're waiting
to see you off."
Lambert opened the door to be greeted by Fergusson, in
a brown tweed suit, side by side with Valerie at the head of
"Good-morning, Martin," said Fergusson. "I'm afraid
you've got a foggy drive."
"I think it'll clear," said Lambert.
"Yes," said Fergusson. "It often does."
"We'd better get cracking," said the shorthand- writer,
"if we're going to get there by two-thirty."
"Well," said Fergusson, stretching out his hand, "good
luck, Martin." He hesitated in embarrassment. "I hope all
''Thank you," said Lambert. "Thank you for your hos
He looked quickly into Fergusson's face it was solemn
and sympathetic and judicial and took his hand.
"Good-bye," said Fergusson. "Good luck."
Lambert turned to Valerie and said, "Good-bye, Valerie."
They smiled to each other, a formal transitory smile.
"I hope you enjoy St. Anne's. Thank you very much for
all your kindness."
She put out her hand awkwardly, and was about to say
something, but her lips became dry and she lowered her
face. They gave each other's hand a brief, hard shake.
"Good-bye," Lambert said again, and ran down the steps
to the car where Barraclough was already sitting at the
wheel. The shorthand-writer had taken his place at the rear,
and Lambert sat in front.
As the car pulled away, he turned his head and saw
Fergusson still standing on the steps, waving. Valerie had
Barraclough was cheerful. Despite the fog that was blow
ing in vague gusts across the road, he had been driving
steadily at nearly twenty-five miles an hour behind a coach,
blazing like a liner at night, which was clearing a path for
a long file of traffic. Every now and again, the coach would
stop till a specially bad patch of mist was dispersed by the
wind; then it would leap forward again while the flock of
cars behind, fearful of losing their guide in the shrouds,
would engage their gears noisily and urgently.
"At this rate," said Barraclough. "Well be in London by
half past one. What do you say, Tom?"
'It's letting up a bit," said the shorthand-writer who was
leaning over the seat, between Lambert and Barraclough.
"It gets up your nose."
4 'Shall we have a bite at the Bell?" Barraclough asked.
"What do you say, Lambert?"
"I'm not particularly hungry," said Lambert. "But if you
want to stop."
"I'd like a drink," said the shorthand-writer. "Know if
they've got Three Tuns at the Bell?"
"Oh, yes," said Barraclough. "It's a Parker House/'
"I can't drink anything else," said the shorthand-writer.
"Bitter gives me indigestion."
"Tom " said Barraclough, applying the brake unex
pectedly. "Sorry, chaps. It's my pacemaker Tom is a
natural target of the advertiser one of the psychosomatic
victims. Tom's the man who only drinks Three Tuns, only
smokes Five Stars and only washes in Two Foam. Isn't that
"Yes, sir," said the shorthand-writer, off ended. He sank
back in his seat, and withdrew from the conversation.
"You'd better eat something," Barraclough said to Lam
bert. "You never know how long they'll keep you."
"How long do you think it'll be?" Lambert asked.
"Could be anything," said Barraclough.
"Will I be able to get in touch with my bank? I'd like to
have a word with Galloway too."
"We'd better leave that till we get to the War House.
Look here, old chap, can we be informal for a moment?"
"I don't know," said Lambert, with reserve. "You can
"Light me a fag, Tom/' Barraclough said, re-engaging the
sympathies of the shorthand-writer. He lowered his voice.
"I think we can, Lambert/' he went on. "After all ...
well, it's up to you."
The fog was now almost clear, but a thin drizzle had be
gun to fall, and Barraclough started the windscreen-wiper.
"Look at this," he said. He took a newspaper-cutting from
his pocket, and Lambert read,
"Le texte public par Le Monde Populaire vrai on faux
etait secret. S'il etait secret, ce n'etait pas par gout du
mystere: c'etait parce que certains plans strategiques
prevoyant differentes eventualites pour un conflit possible ?
ne sont pas faits pour etre jetes en pdture a la curiosite
publique, aussi chez les amis que chez les ennemis eventuels.
Les divulguer qu'ils sotent vrais ou qu'ils soient faux
c'est faire le jeu de I'ennemi et c'est jouer avec les nerjs, avec
les nerfs des Frangais, qui seraient aux premieres loges
d f une invasion."
Lambert finished reading the newspaper extract and said,
"Well," said Barraclough, "it's all there. You see how
the French have taken it. The Brangwyn Report true or
false has played the enemy's game. And it's played on their
own nerves. You see that, don't you?"
, "I've seen it for a long time."
"What is necessary now," said Barraclough, "is to damp
it down. We've got to reassure them. Expunge the gaff."
"What do you expect me to do?"
"Quite frankly, Lambert and I'm speaking unofficially
and quite informally and I'll swear black and blue that I
never said this if it's ever challenged I'd have thought the
very best thing for you would be to say this afternoon that
you gave Augier a low-level background draft an un-
minuted paper that hadn't yet gone up to the Minister."
Lambert began to speak, but Barraclough went on, "Just
follow me for a moment. If the report is treated as a re-
stricted paper well, there you are. It's an indiscretion
This damned wiper's got stuck again."
He tugged angrily at the switch, and the pendulum be
gan its monotonous groaning again. Barraclough ac
celerated, and the car hurried forward to sixty-five miles an
hour along the dark, shining road.
"You often give out general information from the De
partment, don't you?" said Barraclough.
"Regularly," said Lambert.
"Well, there you are," said Barraclough in a friendly
voice. "Put it this way. . . . Don't say it was an indiscre
tion. Just say it was a mistake, an error of judgment. But
take it from me once you drag in Brangwyn and Padley
you've had it. At that point, it becomes a matter of high
diplomacy a matter of handing over a state paper. They
won't hang you for that, old chap. Not in time of peace.
Not for giving it to an ally. But all the same it's ten years
perhaps more. See what I mean?"
"Yes," said Lambert. "I see."
They were approaching the outskirts of London, and
were passing through an area of modern factories. Barra
clough slowed down to allow the workers who were de
bouching from a gate on the bypass to cross the road.
"But Brangwyn " said Lambert, and he saw in his mind
the tall, arrogant figure throwing the typescript onto the
table in front of the oil painting of George III.
"Don't count on him," said Barraclough. "He's no longer
on the telephone."
"I shouldn't count on him either," said Barraclough.
" You're on your own."
Lambert saw Barraclough glance at the shorthand-writer
in the driving-glass, and in that moment made his decision.
"Thanks for your advice, Barraclough," he said. "I'm
"That's it," said Barraclough encouragingly. "I'd say if I
were you that you had the typescript it hadn't gone in the
waste or even that you'd kept it there's nothing much in
that and that you gave it to Augier or his friend as the
case may be at the Academy. . . . You like pictures. . . .
That's perfectly normal. . . . Nothing in that. . . . I'd
just tell it to them straight like that. See what I mean?"
"Yes, indeed I do/' said Lambert. "Perhaps I can put it
like this . . ."
Barraclough drove the car into the entrance of the Bell,
braked, and waited with his hands on the wheel.
"I'll say," Lambert went on, "that one day last week
the Minister sent for me that Padley was there too. He
gave me a paper to give through Augier to the Monde
Populaire . . "
Barraclough switched off the engine, and put the key in
". . . he said it would be a patriotic duty to do it."
"But you didn't think so yourself," Barraclough said,
opening the door of the car. His amiable manner had ebbed
away, and his expression was official.
"I'm not sure," said Lambert. And he thought of
Eleanore at Bandol, and Brangwyn and the Pacific and the
unforeseen prospects of employment.
"I did it as a duty. But exactly what kind of duty, I
couldn't tell you."
THEY SAT ON high stools at the snack-bar of the saloon which
was rapidly filling with managers from the nearby factories,
commercial travellers and a number of housewives from
the villas on the arterial road.
" Another two halves/' said Barraclough to the barmaid.
"Three Tuns. Sure you won't have another?" he asked
"Quite sure, thanks," said Lambert.
Beyond the bottles he saw their faces reflected in the
long looking-glass that ran behind the bar, his own face
between Barraclough and the shorthand-writer, a hap
hazard conjunction like the unrelated faces of men in a
Behind and around them, the conversation had ac
cumulated in a mounting roar, and the air was thick with
the steamy atmosphere of wet coats drying and of cigarette
smoke. Barraclough ordered another sandwich, and finished
his glass of beer.
"I'm looking forward to this evening," he said with satis
faction. "I'm taking the family to the circus."
"It's very early, isn't it?" said Lambert.
"Yes," said Barraclough. "It's all part of Christmas itself
starting earlier and earlier each year. Did you go last year?"
"No," said Lambert. "I was let down by a number of
honorary nephews and nieces."
Barraclough laughed, and said, "Come on. Have the other
half. . . ."
"All right/' said Lambert.
"It isn't true," said Barraclough, beckoning to the bar
maid, "that boys prefer the circus to girls."
"Boys like clowns," said the shorthand-writer. "Girls
"That may be," said Barraclough. "My daughters aged
eight and six like the Wheel of Death, unbroken bronchos
and knife^throwers in that order."
"What are they called?" Lambert asked.
"Constance and Caroline."
"What pleasant names!" Lambert said. "Constance and
Caroline I dislike the modern fashion of monosyllables.
Constance and Caroline it's like a short poem in
The voice of the B.B.C. announcer reading the one
o'clock news bore equably and unruffled against the ag
gregate sound of talk, the shuffle of feet, the opening and
closing doors and the calling of orders.
"They're very prosaic," said Barraclough. "More like
boys than girls. And if I'm not home by six tonight to take
them to the circus, my name will be mud."
Eleanore. Valerie . . . Dactyls: Nicholas. A long time
ago he'd taken Nicholas and Eleanore to the circus. Nicholas
had been frightened by the booming, spluttering motor
cycles on the trapeze, and Eleanore had sat with her arm
around him. That was a long time ago.
Lambert drank the beer in a single gulp and wondered
when he would see Eleanore again.
"In Tunisia," said the announcer, "the twenty-four-hour
strike called by the Tunisian trade unions for today has
been only . . ."
"Why the hell . . . George . . . keeps the news at full
blast . . ." someone said behind Lambert.
"It's the weather report," a woman said.
"Turn it up, George," a voice called out.
"Interesting piece of lower-middle-class semantics," said
Barraclough. "He means 'turn it down/ Instead, he says
'turn it up/ "
She had never lived in the flat not as her home. She'd
stayed there twice in between her journeys to the South of
France. She'd liked it. They had decided to redecorate it.
She'd chosen new curtains and a new bed-cover.
"... Two major exercises of naval and air forces of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation," said the announ
cer, and his voice dived in the air, reappearing with the
words, ". . . understood the French cruisers, Gloire and
Montcalm will not, under present arrangements, be taking
"Leave it, please," said Barraclough sharply to the bar
maid who was about to switch the wireless off.
"There's nobody listening," she said.
"I am," said Barraclough.
She looked at him indignantly, and went murmuring to
the other end of the counter.
"There you are," said Barraclough. "More trouble."
". . . The Leader of the Opposition, says our Parlia
mentary correspondent, will ask the Prime Minister tomor
row what discussions he has had with the French Govern
ment concerning their decision not to participate in the
naval NATO exercises; and whether this has any relation
ship to the publication ..."
"All right, Judy," said Barraclough. "You can turnlt up."
The barmaid gave him an angry glance, like a mare, from
the corner of one eye, and went on talking to a more
"Right," said the shorthand-writer. He wiped his mouth
with a paper table napkin which he then rolled into a ball
and threw onto the ground.
"Come on, old chap/' said Barraclough to Lambert.
Lambert started from his abstraction, and said, "Yes, I'm
Barraclough paid the bill, and the three men edged their
way through the standing drinkers, followed by the even
sound of the newsreader's voice.
"... The Bishop of Man ton, Dr. Barwell, has entered
Westminster Hospital for a minor operation. His condition
is satisfactory ..."
"Good," said Barraclough.
He opened the door, and the shorthand-writer went out
first with Lambert behind him.
". . . The condition of Sir James Padley," said the an
nouncer. Barraclough held the door, and someone brushed
". . . maintained," said the voice. The din rose again.
"... consciousness, and has begun ..."
The wireless was switched off and a foot closed the door
with a kick from inside. Barraclough said to Lambert, "Did
you hear that?"
Lambert leaned against the car. His hands had begun to
shake as if he had developed a violent fever.
"I'm not sure," he answered.
They approached the War Office through St. James's
Park from Victoria Street. Barraclough glanced at the car-
clock that said a quarter past two, and said, "We'll do it
easily." Then he became silent as they drove down The
Horse Guards Parade, now splendid with the sunlight on
the fringing trees that were still wet from the earlier rain.
"It's cleared up nicely," said the shorthand-writer when
they drew up at the War Office.
"Put the car away, Tom/' said Barraclough crisply.
"Yes, sir," said the shorthand-writer.
"Afternoon, sir," said the attendant at the door. Barra
clough flipped his hand, and walked rapidly up the stairs
with Lambert at his side. At the first landing, a young man
was waiting to receive them, and they walked, still at the
same brisk rate, to a small room with a trestle-table at the
end of the corridor.
"What happens now?" Lambert asked.
"You'd better take a seat," said Barraclough, his face set
in a frown. As soon as he had left the room, the young man
sat down opposite Lambert.
"Would you like something to read?" he asked.
"No, thanks," said Lambert.
"Jolly good," said the young man. "I could only have
offered you some back number of the Army Quarterly."
Lambert folded his arms, and waited. And while he
waited like a patient in a specialist's anteroom, his desperate
fear of a mortal diagnosis alternately balanced by a hope
of acquittal, a permission to live, he thought of Padley at
the Foreign Office, of the fog-blown tarmac, inert in the
hospital, and now at last, awake, bandaged but with his
eyes open. Padley would speak for him. His lips moved as he
repeated his thought. Padley was awake and would speak
for him. And Eleanore was coming home. When the young
man offered him a cigarette, Lambert didn't notice his
"Will you come with me?" said Barraclough.
Lambert rose quickly to his feet, and followed Barra
clough and the young man down the corridor into another
small waiting room that had a trestle-table and two chairs.
"One moment," said Barraclough, and knocked at the
"Yes," said a voice from inside.
Barraclough threw the door open, beckoned to Lambert
and stood briefly at attention.
"Lambert, sir," he announced.
In the embrasure of a tall, narrow window through which
the sunlight flowed, three men were sitting at a table each
with a folder of papers in front of him. To Lambert, coming
from the dark inner room into the brilliant light, their
faces seemed like the images in a negative, reversed and
"Take a seat, Lambert," said the man in the middle in a
flat, neutral voice.
Barraclough closed the door, and Lambert looked around
him at the long, cell-like room with its high ceiling, at the
men at the window and the men at the door.
"Let's take it from the beginning," said the man in the
middle. His colleagues opened their papers.
Lambert's hands tightened their grip on his chair. Padley
was awake. Padley had returned from the black, uncon
scious world and would speak for him. Padley with his
gentle nod. Padley would speak for him. And Eleanore was
coming home. Fleetingly, he smiled to himself.
"Now then," said the interrogator.
Lambert's hands loosened, and he waited for the question.
"What is your full name?"
What English Critics Say About
'Ingenious, plausible, and fetchingly appointed,
the whole situation ... [has] ... a lively
and thoughtful tension. The excitements in
both the higher and the shadier reaches of
diplomacy are balanced by a nice appreciation
of emotionally tangled relationships ... It is
all done very deftly and intelligently."
The London Times
"It is a modern masterpiece." Church Times
"Maurice Edelman is rapidly becoming recog
nized as one of the outstanding novelists of the
day." Yorkshire Evening News
"Mr. Edelman has a natural gift for crisp, tense
dialogue. The story is brilliantly told."
"This book is excellently written, its characteri
zation is a delight, and its dramatic tension most
gripping." Glasgow Evening News